New Virginia Personhood Laws Outlaw Birth Control – and Oh, Yeah – Can Penetrate Women Without Their Consent
February 17, 2012 35 Comments
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?
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:
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.
- Please Pay Attention! Virginia Passes Law Basically Outlawing Abortion (clutchmagonline.com)
- Women Beware: Republicans Will Probe Your Privates (duanegraham.wordpress.com)
- Virginia House getting all up in your vagina (dailykos.com)