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Why Do Right-Wing Extremists Have the Power to Force Doctors to Humiliate Women?

Legislators are using the mandated ultrasound to scare, insult and humiliate women.

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Because the intentions behind the mandatory ultrasound are prurient and sadistic, Virginia legislators were careful to keep the shaming aspects of the whole ordeal in, even while removing the mandate for a vaginal ultrasound. Unlike with medically necessary ultrasounds, the doctors will be forced to try to find a fetal heartbeat, which is difficult and often impossible at the early gestational stages when most abortions occur, creating a bunch of pointless messing around for no other purpose than to elevate the patient’s discomfort. Additionally, the doctor will be required to record the woman’s reaction and put it in her file. Since both clinical experience and research shows  that ultrasounds don’t change women’s minds about abortion--in fact, the majority of women are relieved to see that there’s not much there--the only purpose of recording the patient’s reaction is to make her feel self-conscious.

Unfortunately, our society is still so sexist that it’s much harder to get attention for women’s minds, feelings and lives than to get attention for their vaginas. Perhaps Virginia Republicans have gambled correctly in assuming that they can use the doctor’s office to taunt women, humiliate them, guilt-trip them, and harass them with ultrasounds, but as long as they lay off the vagina, no one will stop them. Let’s hope that proves not to be the case.

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