It looks as if Wisconsin Right to Life is itching to force every Wisconsin woman who seeks an abortion to not only experience a transvaginal probing, but to also be forced to look at the resulting ultrasound.
Not only that, as Patrick Marley put it in his recent M.J.Sentinel article WIRTL is “proposing banning abortions that would cause pain to the fetus, barring abortions that are sought based on the sex of the fetus and prohibiting the ability of state employees to use their state health care plans to access abortions”.
You’ll notice in that article that Wisconsin’s good old beet red conservatives Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc and Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin are eager to do WRTL’s bidding and ignore womens’ rights to privacy and agency. There’s no confirmation of what Governor Walker thinks of it yet, though he’s been anti-contraception and anti-abortion since before the 2010 election.
I first learned about this Wisconsin development (which is not alone nationally) over at State Legislators Propose Draconian New Abortion Restrictions, Because Apparently They Want to Fail Louder, Erin Gloria Ryan, Jezebel
I then perused internet conversations and articles about other state’s laws. If this were to go ahead, it looks like Wisconsin would be the only state to rigorously control both women’s vaginas and eyeballs.
As for the other angles WIRTL is pursuing, they rest on shaky legal and *medical ground and they would most certainly wind up in court. Right now an Arizona fetal pain ban is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where it is expected to be defeated [Slate has a great write-up on that].
*”Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.”-JAMAnetwork
“The human foetus feels no pain before 24 weeks, according to a major review of scientific evidence published today.” – Guardian
The Vaginas and the Eyeballs
I also wanted to learn what it’s like to be probed like this. Megan Carpentier deliberately underwent the procedure so she could share the experience. She said it is not “like being raped” but,
“it was vigorously uncomfortable — more than a typical pelvic exam, with which most women are very familiar. In part, it’s more uncomfortable because the technician has to press the wand directly against the areas she wants to get an image of — your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries — so there’s more movement and more direct contact with pressure-sensitive areas of your body; you’re also not lying flat on your back to facilitate access to the upper reaches of your vagina; and you’re being penetrated with a longer, rigid object than is used in a regular pelvic exam”. You can read more here and see a video.
There are legitimate reasons to ultrasound a woman’s pelvic region before an abortion, notably to detect an ectopic pregnancy. The clinic where Ms. Carpentier went, Preterm of Cleveland, does require a mandatory ultrasoudn before abortions but it is not mandated by any government. Here’s the probe:
I do wonder how it is one is forced to view, though. Will the government provide Clockwork Orange-style eye clamps for the radiologists and ultrasound technicians to clamp onto patients?