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McDonnell’s Forced Ultrasound Bill Awakens a Sleeping Giant — Pro-Choice Virginians — and They Are Going to the Polls

5:14 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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.

Photo by Erik.

During this year’s General Assembly session, conservative state legislators and Governor McDonnell made their disdain for women’s autonomy and privacy obvious with a slate of bills designed to restrict access to reproductive health care, including the now-infamous mandatory ultrasound bill. With their new power in Richmond, anti-choice politicians thought 2012 was their premier opportunity to railroad these policies into law with little resistance. These lawmakers grossly underestimated the outrage their insidious attacks on women’s health would provoke in Virginia and across the nation. In fact, their agenda awakened the sleeping giant of pro-choice Virginians – the majority of citizens who believe the government should stay out of women’s private medical decisions and personal family choices. With this spring awakening will come retribution at the polls this fall and in fall 2013.

A new Quinnipiac University poll makes this clear. By a 52 to 41 percent margin, Virginians oppose the new mandatory ultrasound law signed by Governor McDonnell, which coerces doctors to perform and women to undergo the procedure before an abortion no matter what. What’s more, the poll revealed 72 percent of Virginians generally oppose laws that try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds. Regardless of their personal feelings on abortion, most people don’t think it’s the government’s place to interfere in their personal decision-making.

This poll adds to the overwhelming evidence we’ve seen this year that once people understand the true intrusive nature and insulting intention of anti-choice laws like ultrasound mandates, they oppose this sort of government invasion into their private lives. Governor McDonnell has tried throughout his time in office to hide his extremist conservative record and agenda on issues like reproductive health care, putting on a “moderate” face. We’ve always known the truth, however, and now Virginians are remembering the true McDonnell as well. His usually strong political armor has shown weakness, with his approval rating taking a 5-point plunge in the last month. The legislature’s approval rating has similarly dropped by 10 points.

I’ll admit that at the beginning of the session, with anti-choice legislators in control of the House and Senate, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that several of the many legislative attacks on reproductive rights would pass. I could never have predicted how this session would unfold.

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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 →

The Scarlet Ultrasound: State-Sanctioned Rape as Punishment for Having Sex

6:55 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Scarlet "L" for Lousy Lawmakers (photo: amrosario/flickr)

Scarlet "L" for Lousy Lawmakers (photo: amrosario/flickr)

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

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 →