Some newspapers are refusing to publish a Doonesbury comic strip series that will run next week that addresses mandatory vaginal ultrasounds. A summary of the series shows that on one day the comic focuses on a woman arriving for her pre-abortion sonogram when she is told by a male state legislator to "take a seat in the shaming room," on another day, the comic is about a male legislator asking the woman if her parents know that she is a slut for using contraceptive services, and another day has a doctor telling the woman: "By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape."
The reasons cited by newspapers banning Doonesbury are actually reasons why the comic strip series should not be banned. The Oregonian will not run the series because it goes "over the line of good taste and humor in penning a series on abortion using graphic language and images inappropriate for a comics page." The reality of the GOP trying to legalize rape of women is a lot more "inappropriate" than a cartoon series highlighting one aspect of the GOP War on Women. The Indianapolis Star will not run the series because it does not "want to be part of the personalization and debasement of political discourse." What about the reality of the depersonalization and debasement of women by these laws? If a comic series on the issue of harming women is so objectionable, then the reality of state-sanctioned rape of women, and the messy, awful facts of what is happening in our country in this GOP War on Women should be recognized as even more awful and good reason to not hide the horrors from the public.
Newspapers running the series include the Kansas City Star, Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Washington Post, Tulsa World and The Los Angeles Times, but some will run on the editorial page rather than the cartoon page.
The focus of the Doonesbury cartoon series is a Texas mandatory ultrasound law that essentially requires a vaginal probe. The face of the Texas law does not mention vaginal ultrasound. Instead, the Texas law requires an ultrasound, thus giving the impression that an external abdominal ultrasound may be performed. However, the Texas law requires that the ultrasound provide certain information to women and experts say that information can only be obtained by a vaginal probe:
Texas now requires women seeking an abortion get an ultrasound and be able to see the image and hear the fetal heartbeat. But to get a clear image and be able to pick up the heartbeat early in a pregnancy, experts say there is only one kind of ultrasound that can do that, requiring a wand-like probe inserted into the vagina.It's not just Texas. Oklahoma and North Carolina also "passed laws requiring that the ultrasound screen face the woman and spelling out in detail what the doctor must describe, effectively requiring vaginal probes in most cases. The laws in Oklahoma and North Carolina remain blocked as federal courts consider whether they violate First Amendment rights."
The paternalistic BS rationale is that "placing the screen before the patient and requiring doctors to point out the physical features of the fetus does women a favor — giving them information they need without forcing them to agonize over whether they want it."
Yes, government knows best that women should be raped in order to provide partisan political propaganda to us.
While the legislation [in Virginia] did not specify what kind of ultrasound procedure should be used, transvaginal ultrasounds are often the primary means of detecting gestational age in the early stages of pregnancy. In carrying out a transvaginal ultrasound procedure:The Texas law sanctions state rape of women with the penetration of her vagina without her consent. The Texas Penal Code defines sexual assault as "intentionally or knowingly causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person's consent." A sexual assault is without consent generally under various situations where the actor forces submission by the use or threat of use of physical force or violence. The absence of consent is also true when the "actor is a public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate" or the "actor is a mental health services provider or a health care services provider who causes the other person, who is a patient or former patient of the actor, to submit or participate by exploiting the other person's emotional dependency on the actor." Health care services provider is defined to include a physician. A victim's "effective consent" is a defense if the victim knew the "conduct was a risk of recognized medical treatment." Coercion includes compelling a person to agree and these laws force women to agree to the vaginal ultrasound in order to exercise their constitutional right.
The health care provider will place a probe, called a transducer, into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel. The probe sends out sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture. The doctor can immediately see the picture on a nearby TV monitor. The health care provider will move the probe within the area to see the pelvic organs.
The Texas law does not provide for free and voluntary consent by the woman. The law states that before the sonogram that is conducted prior to the abortion, the pregnant woman must sign a form that is called the "abortion and sonogram election," which includes the statements that "Texas law requires that I receive a sonogram prior to receiving an abortion," and that she is "making this election of my own free will and without coercion." How is this voluntary consent when the ultrasound is mandated by law?
The law essentially requires doctors to act as agents of the state, and thus raises Fourth Amendment issues of government agents conducting searches without probable cause of criminal activity. At least for now, abortion is lawful, constitutional activity under Roe v. Wade. A lawsuit filed against this law raised issues of First Amendment violations of the rights of both the doctor and the woman by mandating doctors provide "politically-motivated communications to women, regardless of their wishes. The Center also argues that the law discriminates against women by subjecting them to paternalistic “protections” not imposed on men. “This law is patronizing to women in Texas. It is based on outdated stereotypes that women are too immature or too incompetent to make important decisions,” said Northup. “It’s as if the politician has charged into the doctor’s office and told the woman, ‘Honey, you just don’t understand what you are doing. Let me explain it to you and tell you what to do.’” The lawsuit ultimately failed in the courts
and so the law took effect. The author of this law made it clear that the intent of the law is to coerce women into not having abortions, saying the law will "save 15,000 lives annually in Texas – if it stops one out in five abortions."
Rape by objects or instruments is not a new concept. Last January, the federal government announced that it is changing the definition of rape that it uses to compile national crime statistics because it was outdated, omitting many crimes that are prosecuted as rape under state laws. The old definition of rape was limited to vaginal penetration by a penis and did not include vaginal or anus penetration with objects, such as vaginal ultrasound probes:
The old definition — “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” — covered only forcible penetration of a woman’s vagina by a penis, and excluded many other kinds of sexual assaults that count as rape under more modern definitions.
For example, the outdated definition did not count forcible anal or oral penetration, the penetration of the vagina or anus with an object or other body part, the rape of a man, or the rape of a woman by another woman.
…The new definition, which was drafted with input from local and state law enforcement agencies based on more modernized rape laws, encompasses a broader range of such circumstances. Specifically, it covers the “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”