Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vagina Is For Probers

Posted by on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 6:21 AM

So... are you up on this law that was passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature in Virginia and that Virginia's anti-lady, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-sex Republican governor has pledged to sign?

The Virginia state House of Delegates voted 63 to 36 to pass a bill requiring that women seeking abortions undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires a probe being inserted into the vagina. Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) criticized the bill, saying "We're talking about inside a woman's body. This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician." The House also voted down by a vote of 64 to 34 an amendment, which requires the women's consent for the transvaginal ultrasound probe. This means a probe must be inserted into the woman's vagina with or without her consent if she seeks an abortion. The bill will now go to the state Senate. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell indicated that he will sign the bill.

Why so restrained, Ms. Magazine? Call it what it is: state-sanctioned rape. And that blogger isn't being hyperbolic: forcing a vaginal probe into a woman's vagina without her consent meets the legal definition of rape in Virginia. Rachel Maddow did anger/fury/rage-inducing segments on the new law on her February 14th and February 15th broadcasts. Watch both segments. Right now. Watch Rachel go.

Did you watch? Okay...

It seems to me that a large, loud, and highly disruptive protest is in order. Here's a suggestion: if the Virginia GOP and Virginia's Republican state legislators and Virginia's Republican governor want a look inside your vagina—with a vaginal ultrasound—why not let 'em have a look? Project images of vaginas and vaginal canals onto the state capitol, the buildings that surround it, and the Virginia state GOP party's HQ; pack the public galleries in the state house and senate chambers with few hundred women and have 'em throw thousands of flyers with images of vaginas on 'em down on the heads and desks of Virginia's legislators. Blanket both chambers with vaginas—give the GOPervs what they want and grind state business to a halt.


Comments (154) RSS

Newest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
KaraC 154
Absolutely vile and misogynistic. The Virginia GOP truly are the American Taliban, and their leader is Rick Santorum. It is quite beyond me why any woman would ever vote for these repulsive people.
Posted by KaraC on February 20, 2012 at 12:50 AM · Report this
Why not secure the women in stirrup stocks and do it in public?
Posted by Retro on February 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
how is this not a first amendment issue? what about doctors in virginia who for religious reasons, not to mention basic medical ethics, would rather not be forced by the state to rape women before allowing them to exercise their constitutional right to terminate their first trimester pregnancies?
Posted by marta rose on February 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM · Report this
onion 151
Couchetard i'm not sure what your point is. You go on and on about how vaginal ultrasounds are routine when doing abortions. That may be very true. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter one bit.
What matters is that the legislature has no right to mandate them, and has no right to mandate a waiting period.
It is the doctors' and patients' choice.
Posted by onion on February 18, 2012 at 5:02 PM · Report this
@148, couchetard claims to speak from long experience providing abortions, and says that RU-486 abortions also require transvaginal ultrasounds, to verify the fetus' stage of development and make sure it's not too old for a medical abortion. See @80.

Now, if we were actually free and treated as adults (and informed about how to understand our bodies by our parents, our schools, or our medical professionals...) it seems as if a woman should be able to go in with her well-maintained charts, to show that she knows exactly when her last period was; exactly when she ovulated, and exactly how old the fetus is. No ultrasound required -- if women were free and could be treated as responsible adults.
Posted by EricaP on February 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
I just went through Navy SAPR (acronym for "Sexual Assault Prevention and Response") training this week. From the training, coerced, unwanted sexual contact is sexual assault. Sticking a lubricated wand into a vagina for no good medical reason in order for a woman to terminate pregnancy sounds like a coercive act to me. And even though the ultrasound technician won't enjoy it, I'm sure the fine Republican gentlemen who authored and signed the law are getting their satisfaction. It's sexual assault. Period.
Posted by Lopaka on February 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
Is it true that a trans-vaginal ultrasound has to happen every time someone seeks an abortion? Would this happen with RU 846 abortions as well?

Lynx, I totally agree with you. It literally pains me to think about this, given that most cases of abortion I personally know of involved people who a) otherwise would have wanted a healthy pregnancy, or b) were being horribly abused and/or raped.
Posted by Suzy on February 18, 2012 at 7:40 AM · Report this
To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated, regimented, closed in, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, evaluated, censored, commanded; all by creatures that have no right, nor wisdom or virtue...To be governed means that at every move, operation, or transaction one is noted, registered, entered in a census, taxed, stamped, priced, assessed, patented, licensed, authorised, recommended, admonished, prevented, reformed, set right, corrected. Government means to be subjected to tribute, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, pressured, mystified, robbed; all in the name of public utility and the general good. Then at the first sign of resistance or word of complaint, one is repressed, fined despised, vexed, pursued, hustled, beaten up, garroted, imprisoned, shot, machine gunned, judged, sentenced, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to cap it all, ridiculed, mocked, outraged, and dishonoured. That is government, that is its justice and its morality...O human personality ! How can it be that you have cowered in such subjection for sixty centuries?

Posted by James Hutchings on February 18, 2012 at 6:03 AM · Report this
Does this proposed law apply to all women, as the article says - or does it apply to girls as well?
Posted by James Hutchings on February 18, 2012 at 5:47 AM · Report this
@144 No, that's a dumb argument for this situation. You are just spamming anarchist boilerplate, and incidentally handing out false equivalences left and right.

As many, many people have pointed out, the refusal to include a medical necessity amendment underlines that the purpose of this law is to force medical procedures on "bad" people, as punishment, not treatment. It doesn't matter if their side is "right" about abortion or not.

If someone tried to pass a law defining homophobia as a mental illness, with the result that if you dislike gay people you are required to have a mental health screening to prove you aren't at risk to gay-bash someone, I wouldn't support that either, because it's a serious overreach and violates some of the basic principles that separate real democratic processes from the fevered imaginary version of your dumb anarchist fantasies or dumb Republican theocratic fantasies.
Posted by Jaltum on February 17, 2012 at 12:29 PM · Report this
This is democracy. It's democracy whether your side (the right side, obviously) gets to impose its will on everyone else, or whether the other side (the wrong one, of course) does. It is a system which guarantees that up to 49.9% of the people can be made unhappy and forced to do things against their will.

Do not blame the other people for believing differently than you. THEY are not doing this to you. They just had an idea. In a stateless society, those people with that idea could all go live together in some small part of Virginia (although I don't think it would last long with a 99% male population) and the vast majority of us could do our own things elsewhere. People that didn't like the angry white old-man patriarchy of Virginia could come live with the rest of us.

When will you realize that your system of government is doing this to you? The police state it has created will enforce the laws on its behalf. This is not a different result from any laws that YOU have supported and forced your will upon others; it is only a matter of degree, not kind. Unless they are passing laws only for the benefit of our corporate overlords, they think they are doing good for society. This is what YOU think when YOU pass laws. What is the difference? That your side is right and theirs is not?

The reason that sounds exactly like a religious conflict is because it is, except that your god is your government. It is all-knowing and all-powerful and watches over all of us and, in and of itself, can only do good. Its failing is that its will must be carried out by fallible men, but the religion should not be blamed for a few bad men. We should continue to trust in the religion and our god. EVEN WHEN IT IS RAPING US.
Posted by eris23 on February 17, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
This is democracy. It's democracy whether your side (the right side, obviously) gets to impose its will on everyone else, or whether the other side (the wrong one, of course) does. It is a system which guarantees that up to 49.9% of the people can be made unhappy and forced to do things against their will.

Do not blame the other people for believing differently than you. THEY are not doing this to you. They just had an idea. In a stateless society, those people with that idea could all go live together in some small part of Virginia (although I don't think it would last long with a 99% male population) and the vast majority of us could do our own things elsewhere. People that didn't like the angry white old-man patriarchy of Virginia could come live with the rest of us.

When will you realize that your system of government is doing this to you? The police state it has created will enforce the laws on its behalf. This is not a different result from any laws that YOU have supported and forced your will upon others; it is only a matter of degree, not kind. Unless they are passing laws only for the benefit of our corporate overlords, they think they are doing good for society. This is what YOU think when YOU pass laws. What is the difference? That your side is right and theirs is not?

The reason that sounds exactly like a religious conflict is because it is, except that your god is your government. It is all-knowing and all-powerful and watches over all of us and, in and of itself, can only do good. Its failing is that its will must be carried out by fallible men, but the religion should not be blamed for a few bad men. We should continue to trust in the religion and our god. EVEN WHEN IT IS RAPING US.
Posted by eris23 on February 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM · Report this
The gov of VA has a facebook page. I say USE IT! I also say someone in the public eye (which ain't me, I'm afraid) should call for a boycott of that ridiculous state, and ALL states that seek to interfere in (literally "IN") women's bodies.…
Posted by Manzana on February 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 141
In the republican mind, corporations should have no regulations, and private individuals' sex and reproductive lives should be under complete government control.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on February 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
Zebes 140

Ads are 'smart' in the sense they may be related to the content of the page in question. A lot of people get 'support Santorum' or 'dump money into the pit they call the Ron Paul campaign' ads, for example.
Posted by Zebes on February 17, 2012 at 7:29 AM · Report this
Omg omg omg, not only is Rick Santorum coming to Ohio this weekend, but at his campaign dinner tonight in Mason (outside Cincinnati), VA Gov Bob McDonnell will be the dinner speaker!!!…

I live 3-4 hours away from this, and I'm sooooo tempted to drag the family there to picket.
Posted by MarleyBarley on February 17, 2012 at 7:22 AM · Report this
Um, anyone else noticing the "protect the unborn: vote to overturn roe v. wade" ad on the right hand side of this column? WTF Stranger, did you need ad dollars THAT badly?
Posted by StrangerFan on February 17, 2012 at 6:55 AM · Report this
Thank you Dan for covering this issue. I am hoping that this law (if signed by the Governor) is challenged through the courts. I don't see how it can stand up to scrutiny by level headed Judges. How is this not a violation of women's constitutional rights?
Posted by Patricia Kayden on February 17, 2012 at 3:37 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 136
I say let's take gender out of this, so that even the anti-government male and the sizable women-who-hate-other-women voting blocs get it. I propose the following government-mandated procedures:

1.) full STD screenings for all suspected cases of strep throat.

2.) MRI's and mandatory stool samples for complaints of constipation or hemorrhoids.

3.) "precautionary chemotherapy" at every office visit for everyone with a history of smoking -even if that means one cigarette at the age of fourteen.

Let's just load it down with stupid expensive procedures and see what the insurance companies have to say.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 16, 2012 at 9:52 PM · Report this
Gou Tongzhi 135
Brought to you by the same Republicans who say they believe that government should not be dictating to the American people about medical treatment. Thus their outrage at Obama's health care plan.
Posted by Gou Tongzhi on February 16, 2012 at 7:38 PM · Report this
and this, mind you, is from the 'anti-sex league' crowd who scream 'abstinence only' and think
masturbation is a gateway drug requiring a 'dealer' like planned parenthood.
Posted by littlebadwolf on February 16, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 133
@ 120 AMEN... PREACH IT !
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on February 16, 2012 at 7:06 PM · Report this
curtisp 132
Rape is a means of punishing women for abortion. Rape is a means of punishing women for dressing immodestly. Rape is a weapon of choice for misogynists. It is really that simple.
Posted by curtisp on February 16, 2012 at 6:52 PM · Report this
I can't imagine how right-thinking people, even Republicans, can support this legislation. I don't think being anti-abortion is an entirely unfair position to hold; I'm pro-choice, but I believe successful contraception and adoption are more desirable alternatives, but I acknowledge that it's not my body and I don't get (and don't deserve) to have a say in what a woman does with hers.

But even if you're anti-abortion, how can you condone this? Republicans arguing for smaller government have no leg to stand on, since this is the most invasive kind of government intrusion I can imagine. Those who want to limit government spending and promote individual freedom are equally unable to reconcile this with their principles. The act of subjecting a woman to a penetrative vaginal ultrasound without her consent for no medical reason cannot be justified as anything other than retaliation against women who dare to seek a legal abortion in Virginia.

"We don't like abortion," said the Virginia GOP, "so if you want an abortion in our state, we'll make you regret it.". This POS governor is a frontrunner for a Vice Presidential nomination? He makes Sarah Palin look like Gloria Steinem.
Posted by Daniel_NY on February 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
Simple 130
@28 Thank you. People should also chose to be gay if they want or any place on the broad spectrum. Choice, it does a body good.
Posted by Simple on February 16, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
@126, please see 103.
Posted by clashfan on February 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Geni 128
(and they're horribly expensive, too. Nice fiscal conservatism, there, asswipes.)
Posted by Geni on February 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Geni 127
I've had at least 10 transvaginal ultrasounds (they're used diagnostically in the eternal monitoring of ovarian cysts and fibroid tumors). Every one has been exceedingly uncomfortable and most decidedly invasive. Were I younger (and less adjusted to my past history as an abuse survivor), I would find them horrifically triggering. Anyone who minimizes the procedure has clearly either never had one, or has an admirable pain tolerance.

In my opinion, any legislator who supports forcing these on women should be required to undergo colonoscopy sans anesthesia, to check for the presence of cranial inversion.
Posted by Geni on February 16, 2012 at 2:59 PM · Report this
John Horstman 126
Also, with respect to the "clear image" argument: RU-486 requires no ultrasounds for any reason, as it's not necessary to locate the embryo (a reason why it's so convenient for telemedicine abortions), but would still require doctors to rape women seeking abortions using the drug. There is no medical justification, only a post hoc rationalization; the entire point is to subject women who want abortions to rape.
Posted by John Horstman on February 16, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
John Horstman 125
Drove me crazy that Rachel wouldn't use the word "rape" either (check out the updated FBI definition - this qualifies).
Posted by John Horstman on February 16, 2012 at 2:49 PM · Report this

An amendment by Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria, would have allowed medical professionals to determine whether images can be obtained without being penetrated by equipment used in the ultrasound. Women would have to give written consent to such a probe under Englin’s amendments, but not to sonograms that are not invasive. The amendment failed on 64-34 vote, setting the bill up for final House passage.

This specifically requires transvaginal ultrasounds that are not medically necessary, or even necessary to achieve the purported objective of allowing the visualization of the fetus prior to abortion.
Posted by AnonymousCoward on February 16, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 123
@116: I think these people would be happy to make it more unpleasant to get a vasectomy, it being another form of birth control. Viagra, though ...

Penile probe, jelly-finger and colonoscopy if you want boner pills. Maybe a testicular "mammogram", too. I mean, we need to know the state of things before we can make an informed medical boner decision, right?
Posted by aureolaborealis on February 16, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Pardon -- #121 should read "non or less-invasive technology to get the medical information necessary"
Posted by wallyp on February 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Look, is everyone overlooking the fact that technology advances? Why is it so important that trans-vaginal ultrasound be part of the law as opposed to medically appropriate diagnostic tools? What happens in 10, 20, 30 years or whatever and we have technology to get the medical information necessary to perform an abortion? The law would still require the use of this, by then, antiquated technology. Does that make it a little bit clearer to evaluate?
Posted by wallyp on February 16, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 120
We're living through Revelations ... the kind where all of the right-wing and/or misogynistic and/or racist and/or homophobic, etc., etc. theocratic douche-bags reveal themselves in a (hopefully last) paroxysm of small-minded, mean-spirited solidarity before they disappear down the drain.

Can I get an Amen?
Posted by aureolaborealis on February 16, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
What about the waiting period? Forcing a woman to look at the fetus isn't useful if it's directly before the procedure starts, so the bill also contains a waiting period. This means that many women will go through not one but TWO trans-vaginal ultrasounds, one directly before the D&C and medically necessary and one before the waiting period (2 hours to 1 day, it's not completely clear. However, even if the wait is 'only' two hours, I imagine the ultrasound that is a normal part of a D&C is to figure out where things are right then, not where they were two hours ago).

Also, Republicans: always finding new ways to make health care affordable!
Posted by reka on February 16, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Soupytwist 118
For all the people equivocating the transvaginal ultrasound for someone who has already chosen to get an abortion and this new VA law, let me give you some anecdotal stuff: most ultrasounds are performed by ultrasound techs, not doctors. These techs are not allowed to "interpret" what they see on screen or show what the ultrasound to the patient because they might misinform the patient. I've had three ultrasounds, two were abdominal, one was transvaginal (the hunt for ovarian cysts!) - in each case, I had to wait DAYS for a doctor to "interpret" the images.

Doing this procedure a part of surgical prep when the doctor is present and you know that it's a safety precaution... mentally, that's not a big hurdle.

Doing this procedure, waiting for the results, and then having to review the images with someone BEFORE you are even ALLOWED to CONSIDER getting a procedure or taking RU-486? That's not stressful, not traumatic, AT ALL. Especially when a matter of days could mean being able to obtain a procedure legally or not.

If you're a man, imagine having to get a manual prostate exam, then an anal ultrasound, and an ultrasound of your testicles, images that you then had to review with someone, BEFORE you were ALLOWED to CONSIDER getting a vasectomy. How fucked up is that? But of course, if you had a mass in one of your testicles, you'd consent to that, so what's the difference?
Posted by Soupytwist on February 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
The arbitrary waiting period after the vaginal probe is the unethical part here. Transvaginal ultrasounds are already a part of any abortion, granted it should be done after getting consent. Forcing the patient to look at this information, take it home, and stew it over for a few days takes it to a whole other level of humiliation and coercion, hoping the patient will choose not to have an abortion because of this information that was presented.

Also, how about the women who come early pregnancy expecting a non-invasive abortion, while they wanted an abortion and were expecting an ultrasound (even the transvaginal one), couldn't this bureaucratic procedure push them over the cut off for a less traumatic and painful medicated abortion?
Posted by cdove on February 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
You know, it would only be fair to have to forcefully shove a penile probe up a man's urethra if he wants to have a vasectomy. Because if if a man gets that surgery, essentially he's wasting millions of beautiful, precious potential babies every time he splooges unreservedly into his wife's vagina.
Posted by neverunderestimate on February 16, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
I'll be collecting all the pornographic photos of vaginas I can find and sending them to Governor Bob McDonnell. Compliments of all the women that would like to not be raped by the state.

Oh, and here's the Governor's home address and phone number if you'd like to send him a reminder that he's an asshole.

Robert F McDonnell
(804) 360-4434
5913 Leabrook Way
Glen Allen, VA 23059-6966

Posted by The fag on February 16, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
If I ever need an abortion (let's hope not), I'm counting on Maryland. Fuck you, VA. Fuck you.
Posted by GlassMoon on February 16, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Doesn't it always come down to punishing women for having sex when it comes to debating sexual health issues? It always seems to boil down to a madonna/whore argument. Men rarely get punished for being sluts, but women almost always do. It's like being in the dark ages.

I'm a woman and prochoice, but I do view abortion as a serious emotional and spiritual decision and not simply a medical procedure. Some people don't see a spiritual value to a human fetus, but I do. After the first trimester it's not just a cluster of cells- it's a miniature baby complete with a face, hands/feet, it can make a fist, and has a CNS.

I also don't believe in abortion past the first trimester unless it's for health reasons. However, I respect other women enough to know that my own personal objections don't give me the right to say what another woman should do. It's so hard to say when a fetus becomes human- to me it's after the first trimester, but I understand that my definition isn't the medical definition.

Despite my personal objections to mid and late-term abortions, I am still fully pro-choice. Back-alley abortions and the things that past generations of women went through shouldn't ever happen again. As much progress as women have made it seems that there is still a long way to go. This bill does seem as if it's designed to cause obstacles to women attempting to recieve medical care- that's appalling.
Posted by stay out of my vaj government on February 16, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
merry 112
"..Blanket both chambers with vaginas—give the GOPervs what they want and grind state business to a halt."

I <3 you so hard, Dan.

I'd like to hear Margaret Atwood's take on this legislative BS coming out of Virginia... I realize she's a Canuck, but damn, was she ever prescient in calling this pack'o'turds for what it is: religious slavery.

Posted by merry on February 16, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
I'm sure the hidden intention is to shame women, force them to do something they won't like, etc. etc. etc. BUT (and at the risk of sounding like a contrarian here), that certainly wasn't the rationale. Given what couchetard said (from @41 on), it seems like the law would barely change the situation already: the overwhelming majority of abortions do get a previous vaginal ultrasound already. And I suppose that there are good medical reasons for that (as couchetard pointed out).

Taking this into account -- are you sure that strong reactions against that will work? I'm sure that those who approved the bill kept the idea of scaring women away from abortions in their minds, but it looks like they'll have plenty of legitimate arguments to defend themselves, and to make protests look silly and exaggerated. Do we want that?

Wouldn't it be better, on the other hand, to compare this mandated examination with the kind of thing conservatives protest against when they talk about Obamacare -- the whole Death Pannel thing, the whole 'taking the decision away from your hands' thing? I mean, it's the party of the guys who're all crazy about freedom, who throw a tantrum if Ms Obama suggests schools should serve more nutricious and less fat-laden food. Aren't they being hypocritical now if they sign a law that forces people to do some medical procedure, after they spent so much time complaining about the liberals forcing them to have insurance?
Posted by ankylosaur on February 16, 2012 at 1:05 PM · Report this
If you don't give the doctor consent to do the intra-vaginal ultrasound, but they do it any way... How is this happening? Are they going to strap you down and force it in? No, they will just simply deny the abortion. And I must say that everyone saying how traumatizing intra-vaginal ultrasounds are, are absolutely ridiculous. I had one recently when I went through a miscarriage. Its not the greatest feeling in the world, but its in no way painful or traumatizing. I agree this law is completely unnecessary, but good lord there are worse things happening in the world that people should be in a rage about. If you are that dead set on having an abortion and ending a child's life, I assure you it will be much less painful and traumatizing than actually going through with the abortion itself.
Posted by anonymous2121 on February 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
AFinch 109
@108 - so, I have been very riled up about the personhood bill, but a careful reading has led me to question if it really does ban the the most commonly used forms of FDA approved BC.

I believe the most commonly used forms of BC are oral progestin which inhibits ovulation - no ovulation, no fertilization. No fertilized egg to harm. Followed by condoms...and ditto.

I would be very interested - given that the sponsor insists it will not affect BC - who and what argument is put forth to attack contraception. I don't believe for a minute it's not anti-choice and anti-contraceptive in it's intent, but I'd feel better if I knew the mechanism.

I am concerned that the bill does impact plan-B but even then I don't believe it's 100% clear that it blocks implantation of a fertilized egg (zygote).
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Anytime politicians practice medicine without a license via legislation it's a problem. Of even greater concern for those of us who care about reproductive rights, is the "personhood" bill the GrOPers passed with 66-32 vote. From NARAL Pro-Choice VA:

"The General Assembly is dangerously close to making Virginia the first state in the country to grant personhood rights to fertilized eggs,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. She continued, "With the word "person” appearing more than 25,000 times in the Virginia code, single-minded legislators are about to run this Commonwealth off a cliff as well as eradicating women’s health and rights.”

"This legislation is ill-conceived and has far-reaching and unforeseen consequences on tax, property and probate laws as well as interfering with a doctors’ ability to treat miscarriages. Its true intent, of course, is to ban abortion and the most commonly used FDA approved methods of birth control,” said Keene. "Research shows that over 1.5 million women use some form of contraception in the Commonwealth today. This is a major misstep by anti-choice legislators who misunderstand Virginian’s values and priorities. Voters will hold them accountable.”
Posted by KMS on February 16, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
@95: a very small percentage, maybe 5-10%? We didn't offer, but if they asked we'd show them.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Report this
@97: external ultrasounds don't really do a very good job of visualizing early pregnancies. We are taking about something that is oftentimes less a cm or two. Doctors and NPs also can also gauge the size of a pregnancy by conducting a bimanual exam. This is done by the provider inserting several fingers into a patient's vagina and pressing up while pressing down on the abdomen with the other hand. This is, however, a somewhat subjective tool and not terribly useful when days or weeks matter. However, a bimanual exam also happens at every abortion, so the MD can ascertain the angle of the cervix and uterus.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Ophian 105
As someone who grew up in VA: Fuck that motherfucking commonwealth!
Posted by Ophian on February 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM · Report this
I believe this law was already passed in Tennessee and the 5th Circuit Court just declared it legal.

I agree with Dan. It's state-sanctioned rape.

Get ready girls, the Handmaiden's Tale is just a few short years away.
Posted by SherBee on February 16, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Report this
@87: I think legislatures need to butt the fuck out of medical decision-making. As I said in my first post (#41)

@82: You still need to do an ultrasound with early abortion where you just take a pill. How else are you supposed to know it's early enough for the pill to be effective? Or that it's not an ectopic pregnancy? Even before you take the mifepristone, the age of the pregnancy must be established and the pregnancy needs to be confirmed to be in the uterus. This is done most effectively by visualizing the pregnancy via the use of...transvaginal ultrasound.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Helix 102
Wow, the trolls are out full force on this one.

Or a lot of rapists and/or misogynists read Slog.

Could be either, I guess.
Posted by Helix on February 16, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
AFinch 101
@90 - from your lips (fingertips) to $deity's ears...

@99 - is that, in fact, the way it gets handled?

Long conversation with my fiance - a surgeon licensed in VA - tonight.
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
AFinch 100
@88 - If doctors think there is even the vaguest threat of being prosecuted or jailed for this, they will simply stop providing the service. You're being knee-jerk and attacking the wrong people. There are already, certainly here in VA, only a handful of clinics which still operate, in many cases hours and hours away from patients. I think you fail to grasp how the anti strategy works.

There are precious few George Tillers and out there - very few doctors, having invested years and a fortune acquiring a medical education and license - are willing to devote their entire lives to what is, despite "abortion industry" claims to the contrary, a very poorly remunerated service.

If there are no doctors to perform the service, it remains legal in name only. Accessibility is huge.
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
There are two types of abortions: the abortion pill and the in clinic procedure. Since the abortion pill is only effective up to 9 weeks of pregnancy you have to determine the lenght of the pregnancy by a vaginal ultrasound. Needless to say you also have to have a vaginal ultrasound before doing the medical in clinic proceedure. BUT the government has no right to sanction what a woman and her doctor decide, they are not medically trained and for the most part not even women. This is just a tool used to threaten, humiliate and control women and their choices. And furthermore, I think by passing such laws you're opening up the possibilities to scarier laws that take away even more rights of women. Personhood bill? Man slaughter for a miscarriage? Getting rid of birth control? YIKES!
Posted by miszka212 on February 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 98

The AMA, or rather its members, leans heavily Republican due to Republican support of tort "reform" and low taxes and opposition to universal health care. I'm sure it's happy to throw patients under the bus.


A female legislator in Virginia proposed requiring an anal probe for Viagra prescriptions. Unsurprisingly, it didn't pass.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM · Report this
nocutename 97
It may be that every surgical abortion is preceded by a transvaginal ultrasound (although I wonder what doctors did before that technology was widely available? And couldn't a less invasive ultrasound, like the one scanned over the top of the tummy give the same pertinent information?), but there is a world--no, a universe--of difference between a doctor making a medical/surgical decision for the benefit of her patient, and the state forcing medical humiliation on a harlot who deserves to be degraded as punishment for her sin of being a sexual being.

The issue has nothing to do with standard medical protocol, and everything to do with state-sanctioned misogyny and control.
Posted by nocutename on February 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
AFinch 96
Too many to cite/quote, so let me just follow up a few points:

- I was asking in light of what couchetard said about this being fairly common already. That means it's not necessarily a new structural obstacle to providers. Couchetard, thank you so much for providing your insiders outlook.

- I completely agree that the state should leave the regulation of medical procedures up to the medical board, and out of the hands of the legislature.

- the huge question is whether or not this is an adjunct to chemical procedures (the pills). That represents a substantive invasive change and structural change. It means that a woman must go to a clinic and can't just go see her gyno and get a scrip.

- while I personally find this reprehensible, I need to understand how the additional burden is outrageous in terms of discomfort and the rest. I need to understand that so that when I start talking to voters, I'm armed with responses to their objections. A lot of people will say, "oh, meh, they do them in most cases already anyway...what's the difference if it's mandated?" A lot of us live examined, theoretically coherent lives (or try to), but a lot of people don't do nuance. We have to be able to convince those people too.

As you can see from sharpdepressedman's examples, anti-choicers will seek to fudge, equivocate and cloud things as much as possible. These folks scream about moral relativism constantly because they are so familiar with it, as they practice it daily.

Based on those who've shared their stories - and thank you SO MUCH for doing that - I imagine the choice of trans-vaginal versus abdominal is that resolution improves substantially.

The perpetrators of this want to humiliate and deter women as much as possible - they will throw up every single barrier they can which they think will get past Casey. No question. However, I suspect that the penetration aspect isn't the key aspect. They want a woman who needs this procedure to see a crying baby instead of a blurry blob of tissue.

@sharpdepressedman - you know, the State Code doesn't spell out how any of those procedures you mention are done either. They are all dictated by the standards of care maintained by the state medical board. In other words, they are between the doctor and their patient, and yes, patients do have input. Legislators do not.

I do not want to make light of minimize in any way the trauma and pain associated with the experiences those of you had with failed wanted pregnancies, but I do believe this is a emotionally painful and life changing experience for any woman who undergoes it for any reason.
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM · Report this
I think the big difference between ultrasounds being done currently and the way it's proposed is who is doing the viewing of the ultrasound. When the doctors and nurses look at them it's for medical necessity, when the mother is forced to view it in an attempt to keep her from having the procedure done it it's brainwashing and propagand (at a bare minmum.)

@couchetard- In the cases you've been involved in, what percentage of the patients viewed the ultrasound?
Posted by Bhamjason on February 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this

And those homos can get married; they just have to marry someone of the opposite sex.

Sit and spin, hater.
Posted by blah on February 16, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
@84 - What part of medically unnecessary do you not understand? If your hip replacement required by law that your brain have a knife stuck in it... You would have no problem with the law? Wait. My bad. Sounds like this may have already happened to you?
Posted by subwlf on February 16, 2012 at 11:46 AM · Report this
@77 - You should know that. After all... You are probably the type who might sock his pregnant ex-girlfriend in the stomach in order to avoid child payments... At least that sounds just like your mentality.
Posted by subwlf on February 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM · Report this
@79 - lol. You have lost your mind. Compulsion is not permission.
Posted by subwlf on February 16, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
debug 90
Maybe Virginia women (and the men who love them) should start paying attention and voting? This stuff doesn't just happen, it is allowed to happen.
Posted by debug on February 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
@79. Abortion is legal. Rape is not. Making a person suffer an illegal harm to acess their legal rights is wrong. It's tyrannical and evil.
Posted by Steelrigged on February 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
@39 - Sorry but the "I'm just doing my job" was fired as an excuse back in the 1900's. If Doctors are prosecuted and jailed for this I bet we'd see some changes occurring quicker than otherwise (though I admit your second point negates that charge). But not just the doctors - prosecute all who 'colluded' on the rape. This means those who passed the measure as well in my opinion.
Posted by subwlf on February 16, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
@80, how do you respond to the assertion @78 that:

"The VA General Assembly specifically rejected an amendment that would have limited the application of this law to circumstances where the probe was medically necessary"

Posted by EricaP on February 16, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Xenos 86
@11 Erection pills? Real American men pull themselves up by their short-hairs.
Posted by Xenos on February 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
theseamster 85
I completely agree with @28.

It's a fine line, but this is also why I often find it disconcerting if someone cries, "closet homo" at an anti-gay bigot. Sure, several of them really are likely to be fucked up closet cases (Marcus Bachmann, most likely) but the tone used in such accusations often carry an undertone that you're insulting them as if there's something wrong with being gay. I think the cause would be better served if there was a stronger implication of pity for someone who's likely being a self-hating closet case without making it sound like you're just hurling a gay insult.

And don't get me wrong, some of my best jokes are gay insults. :)
Posted by theseamster on February 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
C'mon heart surgeon, I want you to do the bypass, but I do not consent to you cutting my skin or muscles. I want to pick and choose which parts of the process you do. C'mon brain surgeon, I want you to remove the tumor, but I don't want you to look first, I want you to just start cutting away.
Posted by sharpdressedman on February 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Come on @80, go into the details, seems this thread needs educated. A lot of people seem think abortions can be performed without "foreign objects" being inserted in the vagina.
Posted by sharpdressedman on February 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Report this
To all the people saying that these wands are already used in abortions or that women who are getting abortions can expect foreign objects shoved up their vaginas, there are 2 problems with this:

1) Some abortions, if it's very early in the pregnancy, only require taking a pill so it's non-invasive.

2) A woman has to consent to every part of the process. Agreeing to one painful, possibly embarrassing, procedure does not mean she has to be open to others. And, if it is unneccessary, it will only cause more pain and possibly shame at not having control over the process.

And these are (or should be) moot points because a woman is a person and it's every person's right to consent when it comes to medical procedures!
Posted by Brooklyngirl on February 16, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
I meant @68 in my last post
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
@69. @70 and others: without going into minute detail on how an abortion is performed, yes, you need to know exactly the size of the pregnancy before you proceed. This is especially important in medication abortions, which can only be utilized in the earliest of pregnancies.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Not rape. You can avoid the probe by choosing not to get an abortion.
Posted by sharpdressedman on February 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
A few things that are useful to keep in mind:

VA § 18.2-67.2 defines penetration using an object by force and without bona fide medical necessity to be a sexual assault punishable by 5-life.

The VA General Assembly specifically rejected an amendment that would have limited the application of this law to circumstances where the probe was medically necessary, meaning that the legislation is specifically designed to use the force of law to penetrate women without a bona fide medical necessity.

Bob McDonnell, who wrote his graduate thesis at the Christian Bible Network University School of Law in 1989 about how to use the government to punish "fornicators," is arguably at the top of Romney's shortlist for VP. He has stated he plans to sign this bill into law.
Posted by AnonymousCoward on February 16, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Because abortions don't require anything to be inserted in the vagina.
Posted by sharpdressedman on February 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
A companion bill must be introduced for Republicans seeking election or re-election to public office requiring a mandatory transcolonic ultrasound in order to determine the size of their brain.
Posted by Albatross on February 16, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
kim in portland 75
@ 59,

I have no idea why you think that I think a woman should be subjected to a transvaginal ultrasound against her will. I don't, nor have I said such. Anecdotally I don't know a single woman who has not had a transvaginal ultrasound before having either a D&C or a D&E. It is my understanding that it is standard to "see" before you go in and surgically remove something. So I guess I see a difference between we would like to "see" (date the fetus, or size up the tumor, endometrial growth...) before surgry as standard care after you have chosen to have the proceedure, as very different to you must look at this fetus before you can decide to abort. The later sounds coercive to me. The bill comes about as being the later. And immoral in my opinion. I hope this makes my point clear.
Posted by kim in portland on February 16, 2012 at 10:47 AM · Report this
And @57 That is exactly what I have been wondering. Where the fuck is the AMA? The state is requiring doctors to perform a medical procedure, whether or not the doctors deem it necessary, and they're not concerned? This whole thing is vile.
Posted by Lmlk813 on February 16, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
BEG 73
Virginia's new state flower, the Vagina?
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on February 16, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
@54 I know I'm going to have instruments and fingers inserted into my vagina when I go to my yearly gyno appointment, but if the doctor told me that he would only perform the exam if I let him insert his penis first, I'm pretty sure that would be illegal.

To the people saying this does not qualify as rape, that is incorrect. Most rape laws correctly consider coercion to be a type of rape. For example, a rapist may threaten a victim's child as a way to get the victim to "consent" to the rape. Other types of coercive rape would include requiring someone to sleep with you in order to keep her (or his) job, or to obtain necessary services (think of someone in a refugee camp forcing women to have sex with him for their rations). Forcing women to "consent" to vaginal penetration in order to obtain a medical service to which they have a constitution right would certainly fall into this category.
Posted by Lmlk813 on February 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM · Report this
I'll say it again:

"It is not about protecting women's health or performing abortions safely. It's about the government giving itself the right to intrude on women's rights to make their own decisions about their bodies under medical guidance." And it's about mandating healthcare practices. I believe you when you say these ultrasounds are currently performed as a matter of procedure, but that does not make this bill okay. It removes the necessity of telling the patient, "I'm going to insert this into your vagina now" and waiting for her to go "mmhm," or ask, "wait, why?" It eliminates what I always thought was the standard medical practice of respecting a patient's boundaries. The bill is about control.

Read the comments these lawmakers are making about women seeking abortions.…

'He noted he had a conversation with one GOP lawmaker regarding his amendment where the lawmaker had told him that women had already made the decision to be "vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant."'

'The Shenandoah Valley lawmaker used his floor statement to describe most abortions as a "lifestyle convenience" for women.'

These are not the words of lawmakers whose priorities include ethical and safe medical procedures.
Posted by Skipper Jo on February 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
What about drug-induced abortions via mifepristone /misoprostol? Couchetard and others are saying that women have a transvaginal ultrasound before abortions already -- is that true for drug-induced abortions already, because the doctor wants to know how far along the pregnancy is?

Posted by EricaP on February 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
I propose we popularize a new slogan for the state that better reflects what it will be like to live there:

Posted by Chase on February 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
This law IS heinous. It is a clear attempt to humilate and control women. And other than that, what is the purpose? What will it show? That there is a pregnancy? I think that's why a woman is seeking abortion. There is NO MEDICAL NECESSITY for this diagnostic! How will having this painful procedure change the outcome? And it IS painful. As for the question of this vs D&C, since I have had both, I will say the intrvaginal ultrasound was more painful. It was worse than childbirth.
And who gives men the right over women's bodies? Yes, I realize that all MEN are created equal, but weren't we taught that was a nongender term and inclusive of women?
Bottom line is that this is an entirely unnecessary procedure that is being forced on women. I don't see men having probes inserted into their penises unnecessarily.
Posted by ahlesstennes on February 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
@64, I know, (see my earlier comment , #41), but I've assisted in over 5000 abortions and I cannot recall a single instance when one wasn't done prior.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM · Report this
@63, you are probably right that that's what would happen in most cases. But this law now makes it imaginable that the ultrasound could be performed by force in a worst-case scenario. And that health care provider would be protected by this law, because the legislature has explicitly vetoed an amendment that would protect the patient's right to consent.

Of course, then this law would run up against sex crime laws that are already in place (too late to protect the worst-case-scenario patient, of course), which makes this bill RIDICULOUS. It goes against the role of the state, which is to protect people's rights and prevent worst-case scenarios. It's appalling that a bill which doesn't conform to those standards has been approved by a legislature and has the support of an elected executive.
Posted by Skipper Jo on February 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 65
@54.. isn't rape about power and control, not sex ? when men rape during war, for instance, isn't that about terror and stigma ? at least that what i've been told. it would then seem that this is 'rape' in it's classic sense. the women don't get to choose against the procedure. they 've consented to the abortion, but not this , right ?
and to chime in with other supportive non vagina having people. this bullshit makes me want to tear the remaining hairs of my head out.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on February 16, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Report this
@60, the law is not about medically necessary ones. It is not about protecting women's health or performing abortions safely. It's about the government giving itself the right to intrude on women's rights to make their own decisions about their bodies under medical guidance.

The law mandates that EVERY patient must have this type of ultrasound, whether or not it is judged medically necessary by the doctor (and it is NOT always necessary), whether or not the patient consents.
Posted by Skipper Jo on February 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
@59, I think what happens when the woman says, "No, I don't want the transvaginal ultrasound," is that the HCP then says, "In that case, I cannot legally perform an abortion." Not that the HCP performs the procedure against the patient's wishes. If the HCP did that, then it would definitely be a sex crime, a lawsuit, and a state medical board hearing.
Posted by clashfan on February 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
geoz 62
Yes... where is the outrage? I hope your idea works Dan. I'd love to see it happen. Virginia? Where are you Virginia?
Posted by geoz on February 16, 2012 at 10:11 AM · Report this
venomlash 61
I just don't know where politicians think they get off telling doctors how to do their jobs. If the legislature is going to make a rule about what procedures can/must be performed in whatever situations, they better have some medical practitioners qualified to consult with them explaining why it is medically justified/necessary.
Posted by venomlash on February 16, 2012 at 10:10 AM · Report this
@59 It is not medically unnecessary. Transvaginal ultrasounds are already done prior to just about every abortion.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 10:10 AM · Report this
@52, @54, and earlier commenters who don't see this as rape:

Patients have the right to refuse any specific medical procedure. Going to a doctor for an abortion does not amount to consenting to any other medical procedure besides the abortion itself. If a doctor tells a woman that she must submit to a trans-vaginal ultrasound that is medically unnecessary to safely complete the abortion, just because the state insists, and she says, "No, I don't want that specific procedure, you do NOT have my permission" and the doctor does it anyway, then that doctor has a) performed a non-life-saving procedure without the patient's consent, which is illegal, and b) inserted an object into a woman's orifice without her consent, which is rape.

The abortion procedure itself may involve penetration, but that is a procedure that the patient is specifically consenting to. A medically unnecessary ultrasound is separate and should be treated as such.
Posted by Skipper Jo on February 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM · Report this
I think the very misguided intention of this bill is to shame women and therefore persuade them of not doing the abortion. So not only are you a baby assassin but also a woman with so little respect for yourself that you let strangers put things inside your body....
@45 you are absolutely right is not so much as a physical discomfort but an emotional one. I have to have one every year as a check up and every time sucks.
Posted by Argentinian Gal on February 16, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
Where is the outrage from the medical profession?
Posted by Mr. J on February 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM · Report this
I agree that if this becomes law and women start getting raped with ultrasound equipment, they should take it to court - perhaps against the medical professionals perpetrating it, but there should also be a civil case against the state of Virginia that will get the law overturned.
Posted by Skipper Jo on February 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this
@45 nocutename
Thank you for sharing your story.

@50 kim in portland
You aren't seeing too much. The goal is both to punish her and to prevent her from coming in in the first place.
Posted by Mr. J on February 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM · Report this
Sorry, Dan. I agree with you that this bill is heinous and should be condemned. But calling it rape is a huge strecth. Women getting an abortion are pretty much already giving their consent to medical instruments being inserted into their vaginas. If not, then they have no idea what an abortion is, and they should probably be given more medical advice before getting the procedure.

This bill is an effort to terrorize and stigmatize women, but not rape them.
Posted by RDM on February 16, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
@Kim: I suspect the humiliation and vulnerability were considered a "convenient" perk / feature of the procedure for the wanna-be-assailants, but I doubt that they see women as agents enough to have planned it that way.
Posted by MemeGene on February 16, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
kim in portland 52



Not that I have had an abortion, but I'd guess that a transvaginal ultrasound would be a standard thing to experience after deciding to have the abortion but before the actual procedure.
Posted by kim in portland on February 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Allyn 51
Regarding the political cartoon of an old man leaning lecherously over a teenaged girl, and the cries of rape-after-rape:

I agree with @28. These guys are trying to shame women who seek abortions for having sex. They’re using voodoo medicine to try to stop any and all abortions by making them more difficult, more complicated, more embarrassing. These men don’t care about the size of government, they don’t care to learn more about the realities of pregnancy, they don’t care about facts. They want women in their subservient roles. That’s it.

For us on the rational side to try to make this argument about the girl who has been raped denies our own dignity, our own rights, our own choices. Forget the raped teenager argument. Let’s instead argue for reproductive rights because it’s about our right as uterus-havers, our rights as patients, our rights as sentient humans to make our own decisions.

What if a teenager is pregnant by rape? Does she by virtue of her innocence get to make a decision about her pregnancy that I as a sinful lover of sex don’t get to make? Would more women then cry rape to get sympathy instead of condemnation? Fuck that (use a condom, though) – abortion, like any medical decision, is only between a woman and her doctor. She may choose to share with her partner, parents, cousins, whatever, but ultimately no one else gets to force their way in to her uterus.

It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy was started by rape, or in her teenage years, or if carrying the pregnancy to term will result in her death or a stillbirth. It doesn’t matter. It is within our rights to say that we, established humans, have more rights than a bunch of cells that may one day become a human. That we have the right to have sex with whatever consenting person we want. We’re not going to apologize for making a medical decision that ultimately affects no one else.

This isn’t about a hypothetical raped teenager. It’s about the multitude of us who have the rights to decide for ourselves without shame or punishment.
Posted by Allyn on February 16, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
kim in portland 50
@ 39,

Mine ended up being followed by a sonohystography with endometrial biopsy, and finally with a D&C. And a bonus blood test to prove I wasn't pregnant (Catholic hospital) before the D&C. Each was increasingly more painful and invasive.

I can imagine that forcing women to go under a transvaginal ultrasound is about forcing her to make a decision while lying naked (at least from the waste down) with her legs spread apart and view images of a developing fetus. The goal isn't her health, as it was for me, it is about making her feel vulnerable, a bit violated, humiliated, and being no longer in control. Perhaps I'm seeing too much, though?
Posted by kim in portland on February 16, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
I am very VERY cautious about throwing the word "rape" around, especially where it doesn't literally refer to sexual assault. I am glad that Mr. Savage specifically mentioned that this is a matter of the legal definition.

And yes, I think that throwing pictures of vaginas--ultrasound or otherwise--would indeed distract and disrupt the VA state legislature.
Posted by DRF on February 16, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Karla Canadian 48
@39 - and what would the point be in knowing that? I can understand general curiosity, but if the procedure was totally painless, it's still a GROSS invasion of the woman's privacy.

I can also see @41's point, but like couchetard said: leave that up to the medical professionals who are trained to know this, not politicians.
Posted by Karla Canadian on February 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
I had a transvaginal ultrasound when I had an abortion in Pennsylvania, and seriously, I don't think it's a big deal. It was presented as part of the procedure and seemed totally normal (and I thought it was kind of cool to see the fetus). Sure, it's stupid to require a medically unnecessary procedure, but it's not terribly invasive considering what happens next is they stick a vacuum up your twat. Actually, I had to have a second transvaginal ultrasound about a month after my abortion and the (what I assume to be, since I didn't have to have one the first time) medically unnecessary catheter they shoved up my urethra was much more traumatic.
Posted by gurlwithacurl on February 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
When I was pregnant, my friends called the vaginal ultrasound wand the dildo-cam. It is indeed very much like being penetrated with a dildo. A bit of a shock to me the first time my doctor inserted it. I assumed all ultrasounds were done with those wands they wave over the abdomen.
Posted by sfgurl on February 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
nocutename 45
@39: I had the transvaginal ultrasound as a precursor to a D&C, to confirm that my fetus had stopped developing (I had a "blighted ovum" type of miscarriage, but my body didn't expel the not-really-fetus, and I decided to get the D&C so I could start the healing and get ready to try and conceive again as soon as possible). In my case, my reactions to the two procedures was affected by my emotional state: during the ultrasound, I was nervous and scared that something was horribly wrong with the baby (as indeed it was), and so I endured it with a sense of fear mixed with gratitude that there was such a procedure possible so that I could get real information. It was uncomfortable, but not really painful for me, and I experienced no physical after-effects. The D&C (which happened about two hours later), was tinged with grief and a terror that somehow the earlier confirmation that there was no viable fetus had been wrong and that now I was "killing" my wanted baby, even though I knew absolutely that there was no "baby" to kill. It was slightly painful, and I experienced cramping afterward, though the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional sense of loss.

But I can imagine that if I was pregnant unintentionally, and had come to the difficult decision to terminate that pregnancy, the transvaginal ultrasound would be a different experience entirely.
Posted by nocutename on February 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM · Report this
AFinch 44
@alb - I'm very familiar with McDonnell and you're right, he's a piece of work. He is a short man, and has short man syndrome. I think misogyny goes with the territory.
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 9:16 AM · Report this
nocutename 43
Virginia Out of My Vagina!
Posted by nocutename on February 16, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
sloegin 42
If this passes, everyone who voted for this thing ought to get hauled en masse in front of a judge and charged with multiple counts of statutory rape.

Not that it'll ever happen.
Posted by sloegin on February 16, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Not to give these troglodytes any benefit of the doubt, but I have worked in three abortion clinics in three different states and everyone already gets a vaginal ultrasound. No MD will perform an abortion without getting an accurate dating of the pregnancy and vaginal ultrasounds are the best way to date early (very small) pregnancies (when most abortions take place).

Don't get my wrong: I'm still appalled that these goons are mandating medical procedures instead of leaving those decisions up to medical professionals.
Posted by couchetard on February 16, 2012 at 8:57 AM · Report this
Posted by alb on February 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM · Report this
AFinch 39
@26 - there are two problems with that:

1) we don't want to make the rather brave and sympathetic-to-our-cause doctors the targets of our anger.

2) It will be bundled with the procedure, so that any woman who seeks an abortion will sign a consent form (as they do now) for all parts of the procedure, and I'm sure that will indemnify the provider.

Since I'm not a vagina owner, I'm curious about those of you who are and have experienced this: how does this compare with experiencing a D&C? My understanding is that a non-abortive D&C and an "abortion" (D&E) are nearly identical. I have the impression either of those is much worse than this probe.
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 8:52 AM · Report this
@24 As an ex-virginian woman who also volunteered in local campaigns for years, I HEAR you! Everybody needs to start taking their civic duty more seriously, or we end up with these zealots in office who say that women's lives are worth less than a bunch of cells, or that abortions are just a matter of "lifestyle convenience". Insulting.

Let's not forget governor Bob McDonnell has a long track record of hating women, single mothers, alternative lifestyle choices, day cares, working women, the list goes on (…)
Posted by alb on February 16, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
samktg 37
The Virginia GOP is absolutely scurrilous. Such incredible misogyny.
Posted by samktg on February 16, 2012 at 8:45 AM · Report this
nocutename 36
I also had a needed one. I didn't find it "humiliating" or "degrading," because it was necessary, but it was damned uncomfortable and intrusive. However, the whole purpose of it being used as the bill warrants, is to humiliate, degrade, and disgrace the woman receiving it. And just who is supposed to pay for this expensive and unnecessary procedure? You can bet insurance won't cover it!
Posted by nocutename on February 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM · Report this
@20, I think you've misunderstood me. By asking what non-Virginians could do, I certainly didn't mean to imply all Virginians would be in favor of this horrific law. I'm well aware that many Virginians are rational and compassionate people. What I meant is that since I'm nowhere near Virginia I can't do much in terms of direct action (showing up to protest, putting up signs etc.) but I'd still like to help, so if there's any way people who don't get to vote for these bastards and/or can't physically show up and protest can nonetheless contribute to the fight, I'd appreciate knowing that.
Posted by Lynx on February 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
Sick, sick, sick. I had it because it was necessary, and still it was humiliating, degrading and uncomfortable. Barbaric.

So here is a link to a nice, completely medically accurate, non-exploitive but still very disturbing, graphic showing the use of one of these wands of misery:…

Posted by ScreenName on February 16, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
kim in portland 33
I'm another who has had a couple vaginal sonograms. It is intrusive and uncomfortable. The second left me doubled over unable to walk, but that was due to the additional camera that needed to go beyond the cervix. I needed those sonograms, they were expensive too. I can imagine worse experiences, but this bill is another sick hoop for women to jump through.

Posted by kim in portland on February 16, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this
We need some photoshops of this lovely Governor:… (I can see a nice big probe in his hand)… ("You're next!")
Posted by MemeGene on February 16, 2012 at 8:22 AM · Report this
puppydogtails 31
BTW seeing as this transvaginal probe is being used to discourage abortions in the first place, who's to say whether it will be employed as a discouraging penalty with other laws?

* Park in a disabled spot? Transvaginal probe.
* Download pirated movie? Transvaginal probe.
* Violate IMF-imposed spending constraints? Transvaginal probe. (That means you, Greece!)
Posted by puppydogtails on February 16, 2012 at 8:22 AM · Report this
Just had this procedure done last month for a gyne problem and it was uncomfortable bordering on outright painful. And I'm not some scared 14-year-old or a traumatized rape victim. This is horrific and makes me furious. God damn these motherfuckers all to hell.
Posted by msryter on February 16, 2012 at 8:18 AM · Report this
puppydogtails 29
Is David Foster Wallace scripting this from heaven? I just can't stop laughing at how INSANE this law is.
Posted by puppydogtails on February 16, 2012 at 8:17 AM · Report this
nocutename 28
I wish we could take the rape-baby out of the rhetoric. The reality is that far more women who are pregnant not as a result of rape will be affected, and saying things like "now she'll be raped twice," while true enough (and horrific enough), serves to silently condone the probing of women who got pregnant as a result of consensual sex. Those sluts deserve the probe.

I understand why people bring up the "pregnant-by-her-rapist" figure in these discussions, but the implications seem to me to serve the lamentable purpose of demonizing any woman who voluntarily has sex. I think it's a dangerous step backward to virgin/whore-land.
Posted by nocutename on February 16, 2012 at 8:13 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 27
Gah!! How can one consider shoving a probe inside a woman's vagina against her will to be anything other than state mandated rape? This is fucking obscene! I can't believe it got a single vote, much less a majority.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on February 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM · Report this
I think that the very first time this procedure actually happens against a woman's will she should charge the doctor or technician with rape.
Posted by Charlie Mas on February 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 25
Require a prostrate exam for every refilling of a viagra prescription.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 16, 2012 at 8:05 AM · Report this
AFinch 24
@9 I'm also a Virginian and an active Democrat and this is depressing as hell. But I also have to say, this is what happens when people get complacent. The Personhood bill is another piece of reactionary theocratic garbage thrown at us by Side-show Bob Marshall. Trying to rally Democrats in '09 (Deeds), '10 (Periello) and '11 (Houck) has been terrible (we are oh so lucky in VA to have nearly constant elections). In fact, the backlash, ever since Obama's election turning VA blue in '08 has been horrific. Well, elections have consequences. The most remarkable of which has been that in every state where the "economic issues" GOP and "Tea Party" (radical wing of the GOP) has taken power, the very first items on the agenda have been stripping the rights of women and sexual minorities.

I'm pissed, but I'm just about as pissed at all of the "independent" (oblivious) women who haven't been bothered to either come out and vote or recognize the implications of the policy preferences of these whackjobs. Far, far too many women of fertile age are - due to living memory - completely oblivious to what life was like before access to birth control and safe, legal abortion. They walk around in denial that this could ever happen to them, and assume that access will be protected and always available, if it does.

To some extent - and I'm a middle-aged dude - I'm tired of playing Cassandra, and I say, fine, screw 'em. If this is what it takes to make them wake up and go vote!!!!!, then fine.

One election - Edd Houck (VA 17th) - decided this - by only 222 votes. Edd was a long time Democrat and was unseated by a GOP newcomer. Before that we had a Senate majority and could block the worst of the GOP crazy excesses.

My family has been here for nearly 400 years, but I'm about ready to leave. I'm waiting to hear what kind of impact the "zygotes are persons" bill has on Stem-Cell research..the war on science and higher education has been non-stop since 2009.

I'll see what I can do about protesting this...I kind of like Dan's idea, but let's see.
Posted by AFinch on February 16, 2012 at 7:58 AM · Report this
@18 Here's a very tame version of the same idea, and for you artists out here working on my challenge, this is what the probe looks like:…
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 16, 2012 at 7:56 AM · Report this
emma's bee 22
Disgusting. Makes me literally want to puke. I say anal probes for all republican elected officials in the VA chamber. And that shit-for-brains governor most of all. I almost hope he becomes the VP nominee for the GOP, just so I have a chance to wave that anal probe in his face at one of the rallies that will no doubt come to Ohio.
Posted by emma's bee on February 16, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
@18 Oh, wait. I've got a simple but eye-catching caption for your consideration:

Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 16, 2012 at 7:49 AM · Report this
If you'll realize, Virginia kept Perry and Gingrich off the ballot this go round so there is something to be said for the state, thus the comment about non-Virginians is off the mark. Granted this sort of lawmaking is disgusting at best, making broad sweeping remarks doesn't help, Lynx. As a Virginian, being lumped in with hardline conservatives raises my hackles and your obvious placement at the far unreasonable end of the spectrum renders your opinion equally as close-minded as that which you're arguing against.
Posted by CSA91 on February 16, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
All I've got to add right now is that I feel nauseous. Seriously, this makes me queasy. Glad I don't live in Virginia:(
Posted by JrzWrld on February 16, 2012 at 7:45 AM · Report this
Actually, what this needs is a political cartoon to be used on a poster. I can't draw worth shit, but there are loads of artistic types here on Slog.

Here's what I'd like to see: A caricature of Governor Bob McDonald, with a drooling leer, his hand holding some giant medical-looking probe attached to a machine, shoving it up the short skirt of a very young and terrified girl, from behind, her face turned so you can see utter distress and tears.

Draw it! Then let's caption it and release it as a poster.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 16, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this
The American Taliban has to assault women to get the base really riled up.
Posted by anon1256 on February 16, 2012 at 7:41 AM · Report this
Chris in Vancouver WA 16
I thought the conservatives' main objection to health care reform is that the state shouldn't dictate how a doctor should treat a patient.
Posted by Chris in Vancouver WA on February 16, 2012 at 7:39 AM · Report this
Fixing the economy is hard.

Let's probe vaginas!
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on February 16, 2012 at 7:39 AM · Report this
Allyn 14
@11 One of the representatives tried that and was blocked. It got attention, though, and probably helped get this in the national spotlight.

@10 I’ve had that done twice – once for a miscarriage and another for a possible miscarriage (fetus was fine and is now a delightful child). Those are uncomfortable and intrusive when you want* to have one. I can’t imagine having one done against my wishes.

And instead of making a law against men making laws that affect women (since all laws will affect women) let’s focus on electing sane women and getting religious men out of government.

*not that you really want one, but want/need to have one for medical reasons AND your own peace of mind.
Posted by Allyn on February 16, 2012 at 7:28 AM · Report this
Oh, and don't forget this little tidbit. The one thing that helps prevent cervical cancer has been been undercut by the American Taliban.

House Passes Bill Lifting HPV Vaccine Rule…

Virginia is for Women-Haters!
Posted by DrSlipnSlide on February 16, 2012 at 7:25 AM · Report this
This is incredibly horrific and I'm absolutely enraged. Yes, it is state sanctioned rape.
Posted by Marie on February 16, 2012 at 7:21 AM · Report this
Griffin 11
OK. Let's propose that any man in the state of Virginia must undergo an internal ultrasound exam of their rectums if they want a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs. Or testosterone treatment. Got to check that prostate, yo.
Posted by Griffin on February 16, 2012 at 7:19 AM · Report this
lifesart 10
I've had a vaginal sonograph probe. It's not fun, it feels invasive and though medically necessary at the time, I do not want to ever go through it again. There should be a federal law that prohibits male lawmakers from deciding issues that affect women!
Posted by lifesart on February 16, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
As a Virginian I am face-palming right now. We are quickly turning into Mississippi. This is what happens when you elect a bunch of American Taliban who care more about controlling women than fixing the economy. It's disgusting.
Posted by DrSlipnSlide on February 16, 2012 at 7:15 AM · Report this
Allyn 8
This is what happens when you give government over to one single-minded religious party. This is why we’re supposed to have a separation of church and state. This is why we’re supposed to have an educated electorate. THIS IS WHY THEOCRACIES DON’T WORK. We are supposed to have balances in our government. We’re supposed to have debate. We’re supposed to have rational, un-ultra-religious representatives.

Let’s consider this as a warning and not allow religious republican nut jobs to take over our state. Virginia may be able to climb out of their pit, but let’s not let Washington join them in there. Can we please not elect McKenna?
Posted by Allyn on February 16, 2012 at 7:14 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 7
Republicans are terrible people. They really are. Their leaders are greedy bullies with sex problems, and the rank-and-file are angry morons desparately searching for someone to blame for their personal failures.

I think people objecting to this can get a lot of attention using the term "vaginal probe": not only does it sound creepy as hell, it's the sort of thing that will get the hand-wringers screeching about the children, which gives us another reason to bring it up.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 16, 2012 at 6:59 AM · Report this
Let's face it. According to the GOP, women are not people: they are property with fewer rights a barely differentiated cluster of cells. They belong to the State, and when the State tells them to submit, then God help them if they don't.

And you thought A Handmaid's Tale was a work of fiction.
Posted by TechBear on February 16, 2012 at 6:59 AM · Report this
I've been fucking furious ever since I saw the segment on Rachel's show. I can hardly bear to think about it, because it conjurs up images of a young rape victim crying as she is raped again, this time by the state, in order to punish her for not wanting to carry the first rapists baby.

Since I understand punching motherfucker asswipe politicians in the throat is frowned on, please Dan help us non Virginians out. I want to help stop this. I want to help to create a Komen style scandal out of this. What can out of staters do?
Posted by Lynx on February 16, 2012 at 6:51 AM · Report this
"Virginia is for lovers." Virginia is not for women who have made or been forced to "make love." Nasty nasty nasty fucking theocrats.
Posted by BLUE on February 16, 2012 at 6:41 AM · Report this
Puty 3
I hope this happens.
Posted by Puty on February 16, 2012 at 6:35 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 2
It looks like this same bunch of idiots are also about to pass a "personhood" law stating that a fertilized egg is a "person." Fucking Neanderthals.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on February 16, 2012 at 6:27 AM · Report this
Vince 1
Fucking Republican perverts. Sick obsession with women's bodies and now resort to state sanctioned rape. Women and men had better show their outrage.
Posted by Vince on February 16, 2012 at 6:26 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy