A Rapist Named Virginia

If a person named Virginia
Tried to stick an object in ya
In a manner you objected to, we’d have to call it rape.
When this horrid violation
Is an act of legislation,
Then not only is it legal, it’s a crime if you escape.

It’s as if the state has told you
“If you struggle, we’ll just hold you,
So you might as well surrender, though it’s all against your will
We’re not looking to dissuade you
From your choice, as we invade you;
It’s the price we pay for safety… and we’re sending you the bill.”

Rant follows (trigger warning)

Imagine, if you will, a young and frightened woman, already the victim of rape, who finds out to her horror that she is pregnant as a result. In such a case, the rape is a horror. The pregnancy is a horror. The abortion is a blessing.

But Virginia is poised to become the 7th state mandating an invasive vaginal ultrasound, ostensibly for the sake of the woman’s health, before she can abort. The state, quite literally, wants to force this woman to submit to vaginal penetration against her will, and wants to force a doctor (perhaps and probably, against her or his will as well) to perform this penetration. The Virginia legislators are signing up to be accessories to a series of premeditated rapes.

They tell themselves it is for the health of the woman, but of course many (if not most) of them would overturn Roe v. Wade in a heartbeat, and back alley abortions are not exactly in the best interests of a woman’s health. They tell us that this procedure is worth mandating… and that women will be billed for it.

Ed writes about the possibility of a conscience clause here, which would allow a physician to refuse to perform this procedure if it violated her or his beliefs (like, say, “first, do no harm”). For my part, I wonder if the rape laws might cover this, and whether the Virginia legislature might be named as defendants as well.


  1. Phledge says

    I will be proceeding with the abortion, thankyouverymuch, and opting out of the transvaginal ultrasounds as a part of my oath to act in the best interest of my patients. I loved Daniel’s take on the “conscience clause” (read: my feefees are more important than your health). I don’t live in Virginia, but I could see it happening in my home state.

  2. says

    This hits pretty close to home for me, in that I live in Virginia and am 4 1/2 months along with our first. I have some extra padding, so my OB recommended a vaginal ultrasound at 9 weeks, rather than the conventional type; even with a nurse I knew performing the procedure and Mr. Trepto right there beside me, it was distinctly unpleasant, to put it mildly. I’m fortunate (in the luck-of-the-draw sense of the word) enough to have never experienced any serious sexual trauma, be in a stable, loving relationship, and to have been looking forward to pregnancy: the invasiveness and pain of the procedure was offset greatly by these factors. I can’t *imagine* how horrendous it would have been had even one of those factors been otherwise.

    I’ve generally assumed that one of the impetuses (impeti?) behind the push for vaginal ultrasounds is the quality of images that can be obtained, even very early in fetal development. The appeal to emotions is really the only argument these people have.

  3. Crudely Wrott says

    People are not important. Only the potential human is valued.

    Facts are not important. Only potential reality is valid.

    History is not important. Only potential worlds to come are valid.

    Love is not important. Only potential affection is valid.

    What the hell is wrong with the here and the now?

    These things are troubling. What is more troubling is the numbers of people who just assume that their robed and well-shod priests would never, no never, tell them something wrong.

    [/moment of despair]

    Folks, we’ve got a long row to hoe.

  4. Mimmoth says

    It’s a rotten situation,
    Well deserving our frustration;
    This Virginia legislation
    Makes us start to smell a rat.

    This monumental blunder
    Really makes a person wonder
    Where’s their brain? It can’t be under
    What they’re using as a hat.

    What defect rose to blind it
    That such hurtfulness could bind it?
    Damn it, first we have to find it,
    To assess its frontal lobe.

    So what gives? Where *is* the noddle
    That would spout such vicious twaddle?
    Could it be they bear it caudal?
    Let’s find out! Get out the probe!

  5. lynneggers says

    A trans-vaginal ultra sound is not rape… they are mildly embarrassing (tho no worse than a standard pap), uncomfortable, and, in this case, designed to be humiliating. I had one several years ago and didn’t think much about it afterwards, except to mention to a friend that I was glad I got to watch on the screen.

    All the same, this is a ridiculous requirement that is intended solely to deter abortions.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    I will certainly admit to hyperbole, and would never claim that a needed and voluntary trans-vag ultrasound is rape. As always, the key here is consent. Currently, the procedure is used when it is called for, and when doctor and patient agree that it is the proper course of action. What Virginia is trying to do, though, is override the will of those two people. The law would mandate the procedure even against their will.

    It is not rape in the traditional sense of the word, I will agree with you. Do we have another appropriate word for the forcible penetration of a woman against her will? Cos that is what the law mandates.

  7. lynneggers says

    I don’t have anything as catchy or as attention-grabbing as the word rape… I’d have to settle for “intrusive, unnecessary medical procedure,” which makes a poor sound bite.


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