New Virginia Personhood Laws Outlaw Birth Control – and Oh, Yeah – Can Penetrate Women Without Their Consent


You read that right. Under legislation already passed in the House in Virginia (which the governor has promised to sign) if you seek a legal abortion there, the new law literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a “transvaginal ultrasound“. The other, the “personhood” law, criminalizes the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples. Welcome the Republican plan for America.

From the Huffinton Post: As if stamped out of an anti-woman mold, Republican hopefuls Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul all support the cruel and bizarre policy of “personhood,” the belief that full legal rights instantly accompany the joining of every sperm and egg. Voters wishing to see Republican personhood in the process need look no further than Virginia, where the GOP-controlled House just passed HB1, (Marshall-R). Part of a matched set of two astonishingly cruel legislations, (the other bill literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a “transvaginal ultrasound” — into any woman considering a legal abortion) of which the personhood bill may actually be more destructive. The transvaginal ultrasound is humiliating, painful, medically unnecessary, and imposed on a woman against her will, like rape with a foreign object –but the personhood law is forever. Do Virginians really want to criminalize the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples — as well as a woman’s right to choose?

HuffPo continues:

Having first denied their bill would affect abortion or birth control, Republicans later revealed their true intent. Asked if the bill was intended to “lay groundwork for outlawing abortion,” the bill’s author Marshall responded with the mocking comment: “You’d have to be completely obtuse to not understand that is something I have worked toward for 20 years… ” Democrat Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax) challenged the bill, essentially saying, if the bill truly won’t affect birth control, put that in writing — add an amendment pledging nothing in the bill shall affect birth control. But Republicans immediately voted 64-34 not to add this modest amendment. Even Fox News, normally an apologist for all things Republican, did not buy the “no impact on abortion rights” nonsense, saying:”…Bob Marshall’s House Bill 1 would effectively outlaw all Virginia abortions by declaring that the rights of a person apply from the moment sperm and egg unite.” If personhood laws are put into effect, government would literally have the authority to control the reproductive life of every citizen. Were not Republicans supposed to be in favor of individual liberty? Why then would they want to remove our right to use birth control? With an estimated 99 percent of all women of reproductive years reportedly having engaged in contraception, it hardly seems possible that Republicans would try to ban something as common as air. True, Rick Santorum expressed his sentiment that sex with birth control is “not OK because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” The other Republican Presidential hopefuls also support personhood, with the allegedly moderate Romney going so far as to say he would “absolutely” sign a personhood Constitutional Amendment. What do American voters think? Follow Don C. Reed on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/diverdonreed via Don C. Reed: Republicans With Power: Virginia Personhood Laws a Preview of GOP Presidency?.

And the controversial – but also staunch supporter of both women’s reproductive and sexual freedom, not to mention Planned Parenthood – Dan Savage has a great take here, first taking on Ms. magazine’s controlled response:

Bob McDonnell wants to probe your vagina

The Virginia state House of Delegates voted 63 to 36 to pass a bill requiring that women seeking abortions undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires a probe being inserted into the vagina. Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) criticized the bill, saying “We’re talking about inside a woman’s body. This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician.” The House also voted down by a vote of 64 to 34 an amendment, which requires the women’s consent for the transvaginal ultrasound probe. This means a probe must be inserted into the woman’s vagina with or without her consent if she seeks an abortion. The bill will now go to the state Senate. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell indicated that he will sign the bill.

Why so restrained, Ms. Magazine? Call it what it is: state-sanctioned rape. And that blogger isn’t being hyperbolic: forcing a vaginal probe into a woman’s vagina without her consent meets the legal definition of rape in Virginia. Rachel Maddow did anger/fury/rage-inducing segments on the new law on her February 14th andFebruary 15th broadcasts. Watch both segments. Right now. Watch Rachel go.

Did you watch? Okay…

It seems to me that a large, loud, and highly disruptive protest is in order. Here’s a suggestion: if the Virginia GOP and Virginia’s Republican state legislators and Virginia’s Republican governor want a look inside your vagina—with a vaginal ultrasound—why not let ‘em have a look? Project images of vaginas and vaginal canals onto the state capitol, the buildings that surround it, and the Virginia state GOP party’s HQ; pack the public galleries in the state house and senate chambers with few hundred women and have ‘em throw thousands of flyers with images of vaginas on ‘em down on the heads and desks of Virginia’s legislators. Blanket both chambers with vaginas—give the GOPervs what they want and grind state business to a halt.

One can only hope. I won’t be able to go there, but I certainly hope feminists and human rights advocates in Virginia and neighboring states protest loudly and with pictures.

This will be the defining issue of 2012. Is this what America (or at least 51%) really wants? I want to believe it won’t even be close.

About Jack Jamison
Jack Jamison is a writer, photographer, and raconteur living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

35 Responses to New Virginia Personhood Laws Outlaw Birth Control – and Oh, Yeah – Can Penetrate Women Without Their Consent

  1. Bert Mc peak says:

    unconstitutional. also should be illegal, and also, i’m glad i’m not in virginia, cause if someone tried that with my woman, i’d straight shoot them.

    • Charley says:

      Unconstitutional only if the Supreme Court thinks so — and what do you think the chances are of that from the most politicised, right-wing court ever?

      • DA says:

        Then again, the SC voted to allow abortion in Roe v Wade. Even a right wing court might side with the law just out of spite that Republicans have refused to respect the SC for decades.

  2. Ken says:

    And why not? I am forced to pay taxes to support programs for those unwanted pregnancies to be terminated. There is a 100% effective form of birth control and it’s called abstinence! Use it! Abortion is a valid reason for termination in the case of incest, rape or danger to the woman’s life. If you get pregnant and want to get an abortion, then I believe you should have to go through a lot of painful procedures and very painful thinking BEFORE you can end a life growing inside of you. Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten drunk and had unprotected sex? Maybe you could have told him “No” or maybe you should just take responsibility for your own actions instead of expecting to take the easy way out of the situation by having an abortion??? The problem is, the emotional scaring and the nasty things abortion does to a woman’s body can’t be reversed. Expect more of this kind of legislation…

    • Enraged says:

      Ok…as long as the father involved goes through the similar process with “a lot of painful procedures”. Every time you stick a probe inside a woman, stick up something up the man’s penis too! That’s a deal! But I don’t suppose you think men have the responsibility to think about abstinence same as women because it’s not THEIR bodies that the life would be growing inside, right? And I also presume you’d rather pay taxes towards supporting all the low-income families that can’t afford to have these children rather than help pay for the abortions that would save these poor children the life of poverty and God only knows what other pain in their life because their parents didn’t want to and shouldn’t have had them to begin with? I didn’t think so.
      And if you think the emotional scarring of a woman that has to undergo an abortion is more important to avoid than emotional scarring of an innocent infant that is forced to be born into a life of misery, you’ve got some interesting priorities

    • Sarah says:

      Really? Because I did not get drunk and have unprotected sex. I not only said no multiple times and tried to fight for my life but was beat so severely that my own family did not recognize me. And you support those programs? I have worked for 15 years and not only do I also support those programs (more than just through taxes) I paid for my own abortion once I was well enough to walk again. And when was the last time you had to decide to keep a rapist’s baby inside you or focus on healing your body and soul? Oh that’s right. You haven’t. Get off your high horse and quit clinging to archaic ideas. If you want to take my reproduction rights away, I’ll gladly advocate for yours to be removed as well.

    • What about rape victims that become pregnant from the rape?

    • Sunburned says:

      The problem here is religious misogynistic pigs like you who are preoccupied with telling women what to do with their own bodies.

      Don’t like abortion, don’t get one. Simple huh?

    • Bill Lommey says:

      Ken, It’s neanderthals like you that give men a bad name. Your position is so misogynistic i feel sorry for your wife and daughters. Oh sorry about that. I forgot you’re a lonely old man that hasn’t talked to a woman in your like, much less get married and have daughters. Don’t worry, Jesus might love you, but it’s doubtful.

    • Allison says:

      I’d like to make one thing clear here, I was pregnant with full intention on keeping the baby. However, I ended up having Chorionic hematoma which caused me to miscarry in the third month of my pregnancy and I was required to have an abortion otherwise I could have died. Walking into the clinic I was harassed, threatened and even followed around town by people who thought I was killing a life when in all reality I wanted that baby and I was made to seem like a baby killer. My mother is also a good example. She miscarried at 6 months, had to have an abortion and was on bed rest for 3 months because if she sneezed she could have had a hemorrhage and died. I respect other people’s opinions but you really need to understand that there are other reasons women get seen at these clinics. And by the way, when I had my abortion I payed $200 for it out of my own pocket. I got help from absolutely no one. When you say your tax money funds these you’re wrong. Women AND men get seen at these clinics for a variety of things like getting tested for STD’s, that’s what your tax money goes to. Birth control is also used for women who are trying to conceive but cant and need to bring their hormone levels up, others use it for severe cramps that make them physically ill. Maybe instead of posting comments online you should research a little on these things.

  3. D.G. says:

    Because maybe if the woman saw what she was fixing to KILL she might have a change of heart MURDER is ILEAGLE!!!

    • DA says:

      Most US states do not define a fetus as a person for the purposes of murder.

      As for having a change of heart, is it really a change of heart when you’re forcing someone in a very delicate emotional state through more duress, preventing them from having a clear thought process, in order to manipulate (and this is entirely what it this is) them into “agreeing” with your world view.

    • Diane says:

      On the day that I can choose to stop paying taxes used to MURDER fully-formed, already-born people (including children) all over the world simply because they want to use their own resources for their own countries instead of having them stolen by corporate overlords — on that day we can discuss the illegality and immorality of killing human beings.

  4. Baruch says:

    Every male lawmaker who voted for this should have to undergo a monthly prostate exam.

  5. Rebecca says:

    That’s ridiculous. Why don’t we just let the government dictate wether or not we are able to have children at all? We must first have to go through them to fuck each other at all. And our government wonders why most of the country hates them. Because they try and pass stupid ass laws like this one.

    • Virginia says:

      That’s what China does. When women become pregnant but already have their quota of children, the authorities HUNT THEM DOWN and FORCE these women to have an abortion.

      It is wrong to allow anyone to FORCE any childbearing decision on any one woman.

  6. This is truly disturbing. As much as the conservatives scream about “rights”, time and time again they prove they only care about their (read: white, male, and christian) rights.

    In the 70’s people used to ask “what’s your sign”. Now it is time for “what’s your political affiliation” – time for no sex with republicans.

  7. I was thinking a truly shocking and effective protest would be dozens of women baring their vaginas at the State House and yelling their freaking lungs out. That’s the level of response this sick, sick, sick legislation deserves.

  8. patriotlady says:

    It is ridiculous for this article to try to assert that transvaginal ultrasound is painful and embarassing, etc…. The abortion itself includes jamming a suction device through a tiny hole that has been forced open and sucking her “mistake” into a sink!! Wow…. if I liked Kool-aid more, I would agree with this article, but until I get a lobotomy that is not going to happen.

    • DA says:

      Standard procedure is to give anthestitc to women undergoing abortion. Ultrasounds require the woman to be fully concious and lucious.

      False analogy is false and intellectually bankrupt.

    • diane says:

      You miss the point. It doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t painful. It’s not a necessary procedure at all. What they’re trying to do with these forced ultrasound plans is that a woman who has decided not to bear a child will be pressured into changing her mind after seeing a grainy photo of a fetus. It’s emotional manipulation, pure and simple – and many women can barely afford a standard abortion now – but they’re going to add crap like this to it and force the cost up more – which is flat-out economic terrorism against the already-poor, already struggling women. The state has no business declaring that a doctor must do this.

      I believe you’ve already HAD your lobotomy – the part that deals with logic and compassion. And that’s why you’re on the internet spouting utter nonsense. Per your nickname, alleged patriotlady – what is patriotic about your being in favor of this extreme and unconscionable legal AND physical invasion of a woman’s body?

      • patriotlady says:

        Really?….Maybe these poor downtrodden women who do not want children need to make more appropriate decisions to avoid pregnancy. I am sick and tired of having my hard earned money confiscated and given to a recipient class of people that make irresponsible decisions. How about this: If a woman chooses to be an idiot and have 100 abortions a year, fine! But THEY must pay to have their poor decisions sucked into a sink!

    • Enraged says:

      Ok “patriotlady”, you can stop paying for the abortions. Instead pay 100 times more to raise these children that otherwise wouldn’t have been brought to life – pay for their food, clothing and let’s not forget education. I am sure you are in full support of having “your money confiscated” for those purposes. Oh, that doesn’t sound good? I see. So you just want a bunch of innocent children be brought into life and then abandon them to fend for themselves? Majority of them are bound to grow up unaducated and most likely delinquent in some respect, if not criminals. Yes, I see how that makes A LOT of sense.
      Oh but wait, it’s their mothers’ responsibility right? Well, hard as it may be for you to imagine, a lot of these mothers choose an abortion because they know that they can not provide what a child needs. And that IS their way of being responsible. But you go ahead, make them feel even worse about what they already have to deal with. Or better yet, pay to raise their children. I’m sure most all mothers would sign up for that plan in a heartbeat. I don’t know what kind of a person you are, but if you think any of the women take abortion lightly and don’t struggle perhaps for the rest of their lives with their decision to go through it, you are a heartless person that should probably never have children yourself as you obviosly don’t have an ounce of compassion

  9. Judia says:

    omg…and they say america is democratic? We’re watching the birth of a communist america…

    • DA says:

      The word you’re looking for is “Dictorship of America.” Communism relates to the abolishment of social class, and on paper would prevent something like this from happening (in practice it’d just turn into an autocratcy where the people in power will take steps to keep that power).

  10. Yodie says:

    As a married woman who has lost 2 children due to natural means (and one of them was a result to rape.), I can honestly say I could not and would not have an abortion. Rape victims forget due to trauma and other reasons that the child is completely innocent of the horrendous act that was forced upon them. So instead of adoption they feel they must get rid of the fetus.

    Do I disagree with their logic? No.

    I might not personally feel I could ever have an abortion but that is me. That is -my- choice as a woman. Other woman should have the right to choose what is done with the offspring in -their- wombs. The Government nor anyone else has the right to say otherwise.

    Sometimes pregnancy happens, whether or not you were using safety (I.E: Birth control, contraception, ect.,) I have seen many cases where women were on birth control and their partner was wearing condoms covered in spermicide and found themselves pregnant. Abstinence is not the answer, we’re only human and have sexual desire which we should have the right to indulge and explore. Celibacy only promotes insecurity with ones own body/sexuality which is destructive. Though I do believe restraint should be used for those who are not in some form of relationship. Again that is my own personal belief.

    Forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound for her right to have an abortion is the opposite of progress. It’s an underhanded attempt to stop a woman’s right as a mother to decide what is to be done with her child and herself. It is, in the most simplest of terms; unconstitutional.

    I do feel that abortion should be only open for rage/incest victims and those who have real medical problems, I do not feel personally that it should be used as birth control, however who am I to say otherwise? That is my personal choice and I have no right to say to another woman they are morally wrong for thinking otherwise. The government has no business in how a woman decides to handle her pregnancy.

    In further, if a woman wants an abortion she will get one. I would rather her have on in a safe environment and the transvaginal ultrasound is what I would consider safe. If it is indeed a useless procedure only there to humiliate a woman because of her right to choose, I question the morals of those who support it and their views on humane rights. To suffer a woman who is already dealing with such an emotional decision through agonizing and painful ridicule is undeniably cruel and unusual punishment.

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  14. joe bloggs says:

    man/ woman up guys

  15. Dan says:

    It simple – The right to life people want women to be cranking out MORE BABIES. Good or Bad is a matter of opinion.

  16. Pingback: New Pro-Woman PAC in New Mexico: Power PAC « uncommontary

  17. Virginia says:

    This law and Mississippi’s Personhood law have a chilling effect. Not only do they force women to have any baby they are pregnant with, since a woman’s body can naturally expel an egg, fertilized or not, how soon will it be that eggs will be forcefully extracted from women for fertilization? And that is 450,000 eggs over a woman’s lifetime. This leaves a woman traumatized, battered, raped, and sentenced to an early death due to unreasonable burden.

    And what about the babies that come from this? Who will feed them? Who will nurture them? Who will care for them? Who will have a space for them?

    Extraction of eggs will also lead to eugenics, and much as these people will not want eugenics, it will happen and will become rampant.

    These people don’t realize they are ultimately shooting themselves in the foot. More than that, they are killing themselves and their country.

    Studies have shown time and time again that, left to their own, most women who have children would choose to have about 3 children and no more. It is a good number to raise, nurture, and prepare for adulthood.

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