Headline Muse, 2/22

When a bill that would force a physician
To rape patients, against own volition,
Hits the national news
And we see voters’ views
Watch the governor change his position!

Headline: Governor of Virginia Calls for Changes in Abortion Bill

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia reversed his position on Wednesday on a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion, saying he wanted changes in the measure before he would sign it.

The bill had drawn intense national attention, with women’s health groups holding a large protest over the weekend and spoofs aired on left-leaning comedy news shows.

So…When the mob is running you out of town, get out in front with a baton and pretend you are leading the parade.

Ok, full disclosure–I’m watching/listening to the GOP debate, and watching them sprint to the ultra-extreme-right, while putting this post together. I want a questioner to ask them about lynching; at the rate they are going, they’ll gladly lap one another (to the cheers of the audience) in the race to the infrared spectrum.

Today’s headline does not claim tat McDonnell is doing a damned thing for the right reasons. McDonnell saw the weathervane spinning, and hopes his current stand gets him A) donations and B) re-elected. Period. Fucking period.

(now the debate is between fences and double fences on the Mexican border. I expect the double fence plans come from Berlin; they did a good job with that. Tip: invest in razor wire, machine guns and tear gas.)

Signing off now, before my frontal lobe bleeds and shorts out my keyboard…


  1. tenniszombie says

    Far be it from me to defend McDonnell, but I would like to offer a minor correction. Whatever he hopes to gain from this political maneuvering, it’s not re-election: Virginia forbids governors running for multiple (consecutive) terms.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    Point taken, tz– according to the story, his sights are not on re-election, but on the Vice Presidency. Else, why would he care about national reaction?

  3. Lynn says

    A transvaginal ultra sound is not rape… I had one several years ago and found it mildly uncomfortable but not nearly as intrusive as many other medical procedures, such as pap smears. The hyperbole around this issue does no good.

    It is, however, an attempt by legislatures to dictate medical practice and to derail women seeking abortions… it should be fought on those grounds.

  4. says

    My understanding of the FBI has recently redefined the word “rape” to something along the lines of “penetration of the body without a person’s consent,” which seems like a pretty accurate definition. The key words, of course, are “penetration” and “without consent.”

    Most women undergo annual pap smears. Of course we don’t call that rape: we do it voluntarily. Yes, it’s mildly uncomfortable. But we give our consent. We’re not forced.

    If a woman in Virginia wants to have an abortion, for whatever reason, she is forced to undergo this invasion procedure. Do it, or no abortion. Too bad if you don’t want the probe stuffed in there. Do it: or no abortion.

    Like it or not, forcing a woman to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound meets the FBI’s current definition of rape.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    Depends; are you consenting?

    That’s the bottom line.

    I understand that it is a sort of dismissal of “real” rape to categorize it with a vaginal ultrasound. But that’s part of the problem; if we allow politicians to somehow limit rape to “real” rape, then gee, date rape isn’t “real”, nor is damn near any rape that a woman actually survives. “If you really were fighting it…” The new FBI guidelines are an operational definition, and to my eye, that operational definition includes the Virginia proposal. (Seems the Governor has had second thoughts, so I am happy not to call it the Virginia law.)

    In many cases currently, a woman and her doctor may decide an ultrasound is merited; in those cases, the exact same procedure is not rape. It comes down to consent, and the law cannot mandate your consent.

  6. Lynn says

    Obviously, the woman seeking an abortion has to consent… just as I, seeking a job, have to consent. And neither of us may feel that we have any options.

    And yes, I consider it a dismissal of rape to use the word for a medical procedure. Rape, whether by a date or a stranger or a family member, involves a degree of fear and concern for one’s survival that a medical procedure like this, however unwanted/distasteful simply does not.

    As I mentioned, I have had this procedure; I have also been assaulted by a man I was dating… they were not at all the same.

  7. Cuttlefish says

    That’s the problem, Lynn, the phrase “has to consent”. Obviously there is a world of difference between rape by an individual and the current state-sponsored non-consentual vaginal penetration… Let me ask you, then, are you of the opinion (I am, for the record) that it is wrong that a state can force ANY sort of non-consentual vaginal penetration, whether you call it rape or some other label? If our disagreement is over what we call it, I can accept that; if you honestly think Virginia could require this and you have no problem with that, I would need more convincing.

    A previous commenter, to a previous post, had a slightly different take on a somewhat similar experience to yours: http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2012/02/18/a-rapist-named-virginia/#comment-31362

  8. Lynn says

    Oooops… you must have missed the second paragraph in my first comment, where I wrote:

    “It is, however, an attempt by legislatures to dictate medical practice and to derail women seeking abortions… it should be fought on those grounds.”

    It’s an egregious violation of her rights; it’s not rape.

    As to the other commentator, are you referring to lynneggers? We are one and the same, and actually have very similar takes. I don’t know how I’ve ended up as two people.

  9. Cuttlefish says

    I assumed you were lynneggers, but in case you had a reason to be two people, I was not going to call you out. No, though, I meant the woman who replied a bit earlier than you.

    Anyway… I would say (and hope it is true) that we are substantially in agreement. The trick is (for me, anyway), to say that Virginia is (or planned to be) violating women’s rights, we would need to say fairly specifically what they were doing. And by the new FBI definitions, whether or not it pales in comparison to other crimes, it fits the definition of rape. Just as there is no “a little bit pregnant”, there is no “rape, but really it’s just rape lite“. There is a spectrum of human behavior, and somewhere along this spectrum there are behaviors we label “rape”. I appreciate that you divide the spectrum differently than I do, and if there was another legal term to apply to Virginia, I would be shoulder-to-shoulder with you. But right now, they are trying to legislate vaginal penetration without consent. And right now, we have but one word for that.

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