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On Clueless Congressmen and Trans-Vaginal Ultrasounds

11:32 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Cross-posted with permission from The 9th And I.

Rep Sean Duffy

Rep. Sean Duffy wants to know what a transvaginal ultrasound feels like.

Rep. Sean Duffy is a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, but you might remember him better from his days on Real World: Boston. Last week at a town hall, Rep. Duffy was asked whether he believed trans-vaginal ultrasounds should be mandatory for abortions, an issue that is currently up for debate in his home state of Wisconsin, as well as in Indiana. A bill mandating trans-vaginal ultrasounds was previously considered in Virginia, but ultimately defeated. Rep. Duffy responded by saying that he didn’t know anything about the legislation, but couldn’t comment on legislating a medical procedure that has been discussed at length in the news lately, other than to say that he “probably agrees” with it. But he doesn’t really know because, he says, “I haven’t had one.”

Well, I have. I’ve had several, in fact. So, Rep. Duffy, pull up a chair and let me explain how a trans-vaginal ultrasound works, and how it feels.

The first time I had a 9 inch-long (230mm) hard plastic cylindrical probe inserted into my vagina, I was 15 years old. I was having extreme, sharp pains in my lower abdomen and was brought to the emergency room by a counselor at my summer music program in upstate New York. After having my first ever pelvic exam performed by an alarmingly young male doctor, I was brought into an ultrasound room. I had only been told that I would have an ultrasound to determine if an ovarian cyst had burst, as they suspected, and I figured it would be like the kind I’d seen them use on pregnant women on TV: on top of the stomach, with the gel. Instead, the male technician showed me the ultrasound wand, instructed me to put my feet in stirrups, and inserted the wand.

The technician pressed the wand against my cervix and pushed it further up and to the right side, prompting a sharp pain that didn’t subside until he finished pressing the wand hard against multiple parts of my insides to get a picture of my ovaries and uterus. The procedure lasted longer than usual because my bladder was too full to get out of the way, so he had to press harder and in more places in order to get a clear image.

In suffering with ovarian cysts and endometriosis for years after that experience, as well as with cervical dysplasia, I have had occasion for several more trans-vaginal ultrasounds. In total, I’ve had 9.

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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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