Research and common sense both tell us that mandatory ultrasounds cannot be what proponents claim they are, a harmless attempt to impart information to a woman to help with her decision on abortion. Research shows that women don’t change their minds after viewing an ultrasound, but go ahead with the abortion anyway. Common sense should tell you why. The only real way that an ultrasound imparts information is if a woman doesn’t know she’s pregnant. But women don’t seek abortions unless they’re pregnant. At most, ultrasounds tend to show women seeking abortions that the embryo/fetus is smaller and less formed than they’ve probably been led to believe. Except for the thoughtless and the dim, it’s clear that mandatory ultrasounds therefore cannot have anything to do with giving information, much less convincing women not to have abortions.
So what is it about, then? Pro-choicers have long figured it was a matter of putting up more obstacles for women who have abortions, but mostly it’s about punishment. Since they can’t ban abortion outright and therefore jail or at least fine women who have them, anti-choicers instead will write disingenuous laws that dish out punishment in the guise of concern. It’s the modern day version of putting someone in the stocks, shaming someone as punishment. Except the Puritans at least waited until after you did the forbidden thing; conservatives are going to get you for even thinking about it.
What’s been fascinating about the uproar over the Virginia legislature passing a mandatory ultrasound is that conservatives are basically admitting that it’s about punishing women for seeking out an entirely legal abortion, a backdoor way of making the legal illegal by introducing mandatory punishments. It’s part of this month’s larger spasm of honesty about the misogyny underlying anti-choice activism, a spasm that seems impervious to Republican party attempts to get it under control. Read the rest of this entry →