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4 States Where Right-Wingers Are Promoting Shocking Measures to Keep Women Barefoot and Pregnant

The birth control skirmish is not the only regressive, anti-woman, anti-science battle being waged in this country.

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Like Kansas, Virginia has seen a number of attacks on reproductive rights over the past year. The latest is a bill, passed by the state legislature this week, that will require Virginia women to endure an ultrasound before being allowed to get an abortion. For women in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the news is even worse, as they will be required to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound procedure.

The transvaginal ultrasound requirement, which is also being considered in Texas and Iowa, has been characterized by many in the pro-choice community as state-mandated rape. And indeed, under the law, Virginia women seeking abortions will be vaginally penetrated without their consent and for no medical reason, an act that is illegal under the state's own rape laws.

ultrasound

At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick discusses the GOP reasoning behind such measures:

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that "in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience." (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert's statement "is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue," recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be "vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant." (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.) *

That's the same logic that animates the bill's sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. KathyJ. Byron, who insisted this week that, "if we want to talk about invasiveness, there's nothing more invasive than the procedure that she is about to have." Decoded, that means that if you are willing to submit to sex and/or an abortion, the state should be allowed to penetrate your body as well.

This bill, modeled on one in Texas, now has an imitator in the  Pennsylvania House.

To make matters worse, Virginia lawmakers are also considering an unconstitutional "personhood" bill that would give legal rights to fetuses. Although the bill's sponsor says the legislation would merely provide a "legal framework for mothers to sue if anything happens to her unborn baby," many individuals in the legislature and beyond worry that the law could pave the way for women and abortion providers to be prosecuted as murderers for terminating a pregnancy.

3. Oklahoma moves toward making an embryo a legal person.

Considering the overwhelming rejection of the "personhood" concept -- that a fertilized embryo is a full person under the law -- by the voting public of several states, including Colorado (twice) and even Mississippi, you'd think the extremists behind this movement would finally see it as futile. But some speculate that their end-game is to get such an abortion ban passed so that it ends up being challenged legally, and thus challenging Roe, which would stand on shaky legs given the makeup the Supreme Court.

Now they've found a potentially far more successful way to get these measures made into law: find states with extremist GOP legislatures, and let them pass there. Case in point: Oklahoma, where a personhood bill may become state law very soon after passing both legislative chambers.  Reuters reported on Thursday, February 16:

The Republican-controlled state Senate voted 34-8 to pass the "Personhood Act" which defines the word person under state law to include unborn children from the moment of conception.

The measure now goes to the state House where pro-life Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than a 2-1 margin.

Oklahoma's Republican Governor Mary Fallin, who signed every anti-abortion bill sent to her last year, did not issue a reaction...