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A “Kerfluffle” Over Forced Ultrasound? An Open Letter to Governor McDonnell

1:14 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Tara Casey for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

As a Virginia citizen, and especially as a woman and a mother of a daughter, I have voiced my opposition to the mandatory ultrasound bill.  Although I participated in the public protests to this legislation, I also sought to engage legislators and other constituents in discussions tempered with mutual respect and moderate voice.  When the Virginia Senate passed this bill, I expressed my profound disappointment in what I viewed as the misguided failure of our legislative process.  Nevertheless, I strove to maintain an open dialogue, free of platitudes and presumptions.

This evening, I learned that my Governor does not hold to the same rules in this debate.

Last Friday, Governor McDonnell sat down with National Review Online’s Jim Geraghty to discuss “the kerfuffle over the ultrasound bill.”  I recommend this piece to every Virginian to read as the Governor has used this platform to express his perspective.

Below are his words.  I would like to use this platform to share my responses:

“If you just read the papers, you have no idea what’s going on in the legislature because the reporting has been so poor this session.”

Governor, I have been there as a steadfast advocate and witness.  The reason people are outraged and protesting is that they have been paying attention, very close attention.  Sustained engagement in and educational outreach on the legislative process leading up this bill’s passage has been a civics lesson for many.  Please, do not blame the media for the response to this bill.

“I don’t think the objective of an abortion clinic is to try to talk women out of having the procedure. That obviously would not be positive for their bottom line.”

Governor, I encourage you to talk to a physician who has performed an abortion, because, based upon your comment, it would seem that you have not.  If you had, you would soon realize that “the bottom line” is not what motivates these physicians in practice.  To suggest otherwise would be an insult to their ethics and a gross mischaracterization.  Please, do not blame the physicians for what the legislature has done and your support for this bill.

“Despite the rhetoric of opponents, this was about empowering women with more medical and legal information that previously they were not required to get in order to give informed consent.”

Governor, Merriam-Webster has three definitions for “empower” – “to give official authority or legal power to; [to] enable; to promote the self-actualization or influence of.”  It defies basic comprehension of this word to deduce that a mandate represents empowerment.  In fact, this legislation thwarts any attempt at empowerment as it will interfere with a woman’s autonomous choice and assumes that her doctor would provide her insufficient information to make that choice.  The last time Virginia ever passed a mandated medical procedure was the forced sterilization of the mentally ill, a scenario in which there is no presence of empowerment.  Please, do not blame a misunderstanding of the word “empower” for your “kerfluffle.”

“Informed consent is required for every invasive medical procedure, from getting your ears pierced to having an abortion.”

Governor, even in an illustrative context, an abortion should not be placed on the same plane of medical procedures as an ear piercing.  Ears are pierced at kiosks in the mall.  Invasive medical procedures are performed by specially trained medical personnel in medical settings.  Your relation of an ear piercing to an abortion reveals either your complete insensitivity to this issue, or your complete ignorance.  Please do not blame a citizenry’s misunderstanding of this issue for this kerfuffle.

This is our Governor.  This is his perspective. 

Dear Reader, that is exactly what the “kerfuffle” is all about.

What I Learned Today in Virginia: Orwellian Logic in 2012

1:24 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by tlcasey for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Early this morning, I learned that Governor McDonnell had ordered a SWAT Team to cover a Candlelight Vigil I attended the night before at the Governor’s Mansion. Riot police were hiding in the bushes, while my two small children and I sang, “This Little Light of Mine.”

In the mid-morning, I learned that compassion and logic do not have to be mutually exclusive, when a Virginia Senate Finance Committee quashed a House bill that would have cut funding to low-income women seeking abortions when a physician had certified a gross abnormality and/or malformation in the fetus they were carrying.

In the afternoon, however, I learned that, as a woman, I do not have the capacity to make an informed decision without my physician performing what is deemed to be an unnecessary medical procedure.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators are better equipped and trained to prescribe medical procedures than treating physicians. I also learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure on a woman even when the medical community deems the procedure medically unnecessary.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators may have the compassion to exempt victims of the historically under-reported crimes rape or incest from this legislation, but they are without any true logic by requiring these victims to have reported the crime to the police to qualify for the exemption.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure on a woman but refuse to require an insurance company to cover the procedure. I also learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure but refuse to pay for the procedure if a woman cannot afford it.

I learned that 21 Virginia Senators can mandate a medical procedure even when the procedure itself does not provide the information sought for “informed consent.”

I learned that the flip phrases “jelly on the belly” and “abortion is a matter of lifestyle convenience,” which I personally heard in the halls of my state legislature, translate to actual votes and platform positions of disengaged legislators.

I learned that the prophetic phrase of Orwellian logic, “Ignorance is Strength,” came true in Virginia – not in 1984, but in 2012.

State Senator Coleman on Alabama’s Mandated Ultrasound Bill: “It’s Rape”

8:36 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

(photo: eafit/flickr)

(photo: eafit/flickr)

Written by Andy Kopsa for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This article was updated at 5:15 p.m., Monday, February 27th to include information on a phone call placed to Preferred Medical Services, which could not confirm the claim made by Senator Reed that his company “does not sell equipment to abortion providers.”

The Alabama legislature is considering a mandated vaginal ultrasound bill in an attempt to restrict safe abortion care, or as State Senator Linda Coleman (D – Jefferson) says “a state-sanctioned rape bill.”

The bill explicitly includes mandated trans-vaginal ultrasound.

In an interview today with RH Reality Check Coleman said, “you can’t tell me forcing a probe into a woman’s vagina against her consent is anything but rape. You can put icing on it, dress it up, but this is the forced penetration of a woman’s vagina without her consent.”

Coleman was outraged over the introduction of the bill. Now that it has passed out of committee it moves to the full floor for debate and vote, “This is the most important thing we are dealing with in Alabama, regulating a woman’s vagina? As a woman I am outraged.”

Coleman was the sole dissenting voice during during the Senate Health Committee’s debate over SB 12.

Coleman said SB 12 needs more media heat and light, “the best thing to happen to this bill is the media got ahold of it.” A Facebook page against SB12 has popped up and already has over 1,000 group members.

Senator Coleman said that there has been no public hearing on this bill.  (Anyone living in Alabama can demand a public hearing by calling or emailing their Senator or Representative, or you can click here to contact the Senate leadership).

She feels this is because the Alabama GOP has a clear anti-choice agenda and she anticipates SB 12 to pass through the senate and subsequently the house like “a knife through butter.”

Citing the unforseen problems with Alabama’s anti-immigration law as a prologue on government overreach, Coleman believes the state-sanctioned rape bill could likewise cause unintended consequences.  For example the Senator said,  ”What if a woman is fighting the probe?  Is the state going to drug her?  Are they going to tie her down? How far can we go?” Read the rest of this entry →