State legislators want to get the government out of dudes’ lives but up into your ladybusiness

Via Shakesville, a real-life story of the real-life effects of ultrasound laws that “give” women the “right to know” about abortion.  First of all, the effects of the Catholic affiliation of many hospitals in the U.S.:

[B]efore I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly.

So, softly, haltingly, my husband asked about termination. The doctor shot me a glance that said: Are you okay to hear this now? I nodded, clenched my fists and focused on the cowboy boots beneath her scrubs.

She started with an apology, saying that despite being responsible for both my baby’s care and my own, she couldn’t take us to the final stop. The hospital with which she’s affiliated is Catholic and doesn’t allow abortion. It felt like a physical blow to hear that word, abortion, in the context of our much-wanted child. Abortion is a topic that never seemed relevant to me; it was something we read about in the news or talked about politically; it always remained at a safe distance. Yet now its ugly fist was hammering on my chest.

Then, the author’s experience as she was–as it turns out unnecessarily–subjected to Texas’s new ultrasound laws:

My counselor said that the law required me to have another ultrasound that day, and that I was legally obligated to hear a doctor describe my baby. I’d then have to wait 24 hours before coming back for the procedure. She said that I could either see the sonogram or listen to the baby’s heartbeat, adding weakly that this choice was mine.

“I don’t want to have to do this at all,” I told her. “I’m doing this to prevent my baby’s suffering. I don’t want another sonogram when I’ve already had two today. I don’t want to hear a description of the life I’m about to end. Please,” I said, “I can’t take any more pain.” I confess that I don’t know why I said that. I knew it was fait accompli. The counselor could no more change the government requirement than I could. Yet here was a superfluous layer of torment piled upon an already horrific day, and I wanted this woman to know it.

.       .       .       .       .       .      

“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.” Before he could even start to describe our baby, I began to sob until I could barely breathe. Somewhere, a nurse cranked up the volume on a radio, allowing the inane pronouncements of a DJ to dull the doctor’s voice. Still, despite the noise, I heard him. His unwelcome words echoed off sterile walls while I, trapped on a bed, my feet in stirrups, twisted away from his voice.

“Here I see a well-developed diaphragm and here I see four healthy chambers of the heart…”

I closed my eyes and waited for it to end, as one waits for the car to stop rolling at the end of a terrible accident.

Why don’t legislators who back these kinds of intrusive laws just admit that in their view medical privacy and autonomy don’t apply to women?  That they want the government out of your business unless your business is ladybusiness?  It’s like nobody evern told them about the passage of the 19th Amendment, or the Griswold and Roe decisions.

Have you ever met a state legislator?  They’re not–shall we say?–the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.  I don’t know any who have serious Constitutional law credentials here in Colorado, or any serious intellecual accomplishments of any kind.  They’re not physicians usually, nor are they people with any expertise outside of the business of for-profit health care.  They’re usually small town small-time thinkers–you know, small business owners, Rotarians, and the like.  So here’s my modest proposal:  I think we should advocate laws mandating a reading of the Bill of Rights, the 19th Amendment, and the Griswold and Roe decisions in their entirety every time legislators contemplate passage of laws that apply only to women’s health care, in addition to a 24-hour waiting period before anyone can vote.  

Plus mandatory medical rape for all of them–vaginally or anally, their choice.  Turnabout is fair play, after all.

16 thoughts on “State legislators want to get the government out of dudes’ lives but up into your ladybusiness

  1. They’re usually small town small-time thinkers–you know, small business owners, Rotarians, and the like.

    It’s even worse than that. State legislators in shitteasse backwards states are the kind of bitter stupid ineffectual people who aren’t even competent enough to manage a fucken McDonald’s, and they know it. It’s why they are drawn to small-time politics: it lets them feel important and get out their aggressions wielding power over their betters.


  2. I think we should advocate laws mandating a reading

    I know this is meant in an ironic way but it is depressing because my sense is that reading the relevant sources wouldn’t help anything at all. Every cognition study I’ve seen on knowledge and policy positions concludes that more knowledge does not lead to more rational positions, indeed it may be the opposite. Well-educated elites tend to be the most polarized. (Website of an elite group who study this stuff.)


  3. Have you ever met a state legislator? They’re not–shall we say?–the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.

    This is putting it mildly, and you know it, Historiann. Shall I assume that you are a kinder and more charitable human being than I? My first thought whenever I think of state legislators is a smear of unprintable language.


  4. The newest idea (I forget what state and too sickened to look it up) is to force women whose fetus has died in utero to carry it no matter how long it takes for the body to expel it. I read that article with real dread. The one and only woman I know who has died in pregnancy died from just that situation.

    The military base where we were both wives at the time, refused to induce labor (citing the federal abortion ban—at least at the time in military hospitals) and she did not spontaneously abort as they expected. She died three weeks after they determined the six-month fetus died. She died of septicemia from the dead fetus she was forced to carry for three more weeks.

    We were both pregnant and both 22 years old. I will never forget the hell she and her husband went through before she was hospitalized to *die.* I don’t know what sort of moron thinks *this* in particular is a sound medical idea but, women are ultimately disposable is the lesson I took from that episode and nothing lately has changed my mind.


  5. What a horrible story, Dutchie. I’m so, so sorry to hear about it. I imagine that you must wonder about her and her dead child several times a year, when you look at your own child. Where would they be now, and how would they be doing? What joys and sorrows have they missed out on? What a terrible and completely unnecesary theft.

    Dr. Koshary: most of my friends tell me that I’m just too nice and too willing to see the best in people. That might be true–but maybe I just have a very cynical and gimlet-eyed set of friends?

    And truffula: yes, my imaginary law would be more rhetorical than instrumental, to be sure. Except for the medical rape part, of course: that would be *highly* instrumental, and perhaps instructive for our friends in the state houses across this country.


  6. In addition to what has been said above about state legislators, what also didn’t surprise me is that Texas doesn’t have some sort of requirement for an outside review of “factual” “scientific” statements.

    The information that was read to that woman was untrue (abortion raises risk for breast cancer & the mental health effects of abortion) and/or so misleading as to be untrue (only warning of the risks of abortion and not the much greater risks of pregnancy). Apparently there is no part of the good ole boy system whereby things that your doctor says to you have to be medically accurate.

    Is there anything that AMA is looking into? I mean, really.


  7. The AMA is a lobbying organization designed to protect physicians’ perks. (Fratguy is not a member, in case you’re wondering.) It is NOT an organization that sponsors rigorous reviews of the state of the field, unlike various subspecialty organizations (the AAP, ACOG, etc.)

    You’d think there were self-respecting converative ob/gynecologists who would have stepped forward in Texas to halt the misinformation. Then again, the afactual bull$hit only serves to highlight that the required ultrasound & little song-and-dance number are a political imposition & not medically necessary or useful.


  8. I’m not sure where I saw this. Someone pointed out that medical rape is exactly the same sort of state-sponsored torture that we tell doctors to refuse to participate in when it happens in acknowledged dictatorships.

    Where is the outrage among doctors and their organizations that they’re being turned into tools of state-sponsored torture right here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Well? Where is it?

    Those who say, “I’m so sorry, but I could lose my license” can now understand what motivated some doctors in, say, the USSR, who consigned sane people to mental institutions.


  9. I might have said this here before, in another thread, but it bears repeating. These sorts of horrifying stories (like @ Dutchie’s) are part of a larger story of the diminishing rights of pregnant women on all levels – what I mean is, this erosion of rights isn’t just about termination rights but a woman’s complete lack of right to bodily autonomy during pregnancy and childbirth, including the criminalization of drug use by pregnant women and court-ordered C-sections (the stories that pregnant women tell about their birthing experiences in many hospitals are hair-raising; while it’s a controversial term, there is a reason why some women are talking about ‘birth rape’). All of these invasions have been justified as protecting the fetus (against the poor and ignorant decision making skills of its mother). My point is this: it’s been happening all over the places on a variety of fronts before now, and many OBs have been complicit in the coercion and abuse of women (that’s part of my answer to @quixote’s question). Of course, it appears to be getting worse. Forcing physicians to provide misinformation is repellent, and (to me) the most terrifying aspect is that our dim-bulb representatives appear to believe that it IS medically true. We also need to start confronting the deliberate misinformation/ propaganda loop that is eating away at our public intellectual culture, such that it is.


  10. I once knew a state legislator. He graduated from the same high school a year before me (1999), went to college, then ran for the state house, and was lucky enough to be running against a complete moron who had an affair in a state park. Spent three years in the house, did nothing, and then resigned to become a lobbyist. That’s some quality politicking.


  11. This makes me so sick it’s hard to think rationally. i do wonder why anyone would choose to practice medicine in Texas, however.

    But I think Perpetua’s comment on the general rights of pregnant women is very important. Somehow, our society has decided that once you are pregnant, your fetus always trumps you, under all circumstances, and those brilliant state legislators are ready to tell you what is best for your fetus.


  12. Pingback: Weekend Reading « Backslash Scott Thoughts

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