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An Ultrasound Isn’t Rape: Attacks on Virginia Abortion Law Go Over the Top

You could probably come up with some decent arguments against the legislation passed by the Virginia legislature, which would require women to receive ultrasounds before undergoing an abortion. Or, as Slate does, you could just descend into hysteria and wild-eyed fear-mongering:

I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law. …

The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a woman without consent. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the vagina of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.

Comparing the ultrasound proposal to forcible rape is – to be kind – totally absurd. But Slate’s not the only outlet engaging in this. Feministe is calling it the “Virginia Rape Law,” and Washington Monthly described it as the “Ritual Humiliation Bill.”

Then there’s Joy Behar, who likened it to Taliban law on “The View”: “It’s like, what are we? What is this, the Taliban now? What are we, in Afghanistan? Where are we exactly in this country?”

The comparisons aren’t just needlessly inflammatory, they also dilute the seriousness of rape. And there’s also a case to be made that there’s a tangible medical benefit from the ultrasound, as Tim Griffin writes at Red State:

Although the discomfort of the test to women should not be in any way dismissed or downplayed, this really is an important step in allowing mothers to be informed of the ramifications of the choice that they make.  Hundreds of thousands of American women struggle with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome. For those who advocate the rights of women, their responsibility should not only be on extending the “right to choose” before the procedure, but should extend to ensuring that these women do not have to endure a decision for the rest of their lives that they did not truly understand.

Pro-choice advocates say they’re not in favor of abortion, they’re in favor of giving women the option to have it. If that’s the case, they should support arming women with more information about a procedure that, at least under the law, is their right to have.

Update: Dan McLaughlin points out on Twitter that I credited the first piece to Salon, when it should actually be credited to Slate. Duly corrected, and apologies for any confusion.


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