Virginia hates women. And doctors. And modernity.

Go read Dahlia Lithwick, “Virginia’s Proposed Ultrasound Law Is an Abomination“:

This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

… The physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman, despite clear ethical directives to the contrary. (There is no evidence at all that the ultrasound is a medical necessity, and nobody attempted to defend it on those grounds.) As an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot put it recently, “Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.”

Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a woman without consent.

Go read the whole thing.

Virginia is to women what Alabama is to undocumented workers.

Right now, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison, Richmond, Old Dominion, George Mason, George Washington and dozens of other colleges and universities in the commonwealth are mailing letters to high school students all over the country. They needn’t have bothered sending half of those. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Republicans of the General Assembly just made it clear that all female students should look elsewhere. The state has demonstrated its contempt for their dignity, safety and humanity.

See also:

(That last link is about Riyadh, not Richmond, but it’s getting harder to tell the difference.)



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  • Michael Pullmann

    I read somewhere that this procedure actually carries a risk of miscarriage. True or false?

    If true, that ought to put paid to the idea that this nonsense is about protecting the life of the fetus.

  • Katie

     Transvaginal ultrasound doesn’t have any risk of miscarriage, and is routinely done if a ultrasound is needed in the first few weeks of pregnancy.  Of course, in my most recent pregnancy, it was an ultrasound that made me decide to terminate the pregnancy, but that is another story.

  • Ian C. Racey

    Minor correction–George Washington is in the District, not Virginia.  I, unfortunately, am in Virginia, with a wife and daughter who apparently now less valid human beings to our elected legislators than my son and I are.

  • caffinatedlemur

    Excuse the overused meme, but it’s pretty accurate for my morning after all this…insanity.

  • Chris Doggett

    This story is just about the most horrible thing I’ve seen in U.S. politics in recent memory. There are so many things wrong it’s difficult to catalogue them all.

    Maybe what’s most saddening of all is that none of the persons who propsed this, or voted for it, will lose their jobs as a result. Ethical, responsible lawyers will move to block the law, and rational, moral judges will strike it down, but there will be no real consequences to the legislators who created this law, or the political factions that drafted it or supported it.

    And because there will be no lasting consequences, the next hateful, spiteful, misogynistic law will actually manage, somehow, to be worse.

    It’s only 8:30 in the morning, and I want a drink.

  • Triplanetary

    Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial.

    Not to mention that the anti-choice doctors’ “conscience” is more important than a woman’s right to control and consent to what goes into her body.

    Let’s cut the bullshit – we know what this is. Anti-choicers imagine a woman exercising control over her body and her genitals and her reproductive functions, and it makes them incredibly uncomfortable. So they think, “How can we take some of that control away from them? Reassert our penis-given right to ownership of their genitals?” And naturally “forcible penetration” comes right to the fore.

    You’re excused if you vomit. I might.

  • FangsFirst

    Texas has already had the law signed in, fought and *upheld.*

  • Anonymous

    No, no, they’re protecting women!  They just want to make sure that women don’t make a choice that they might regret later!  See, women have a natural drive toward childbirth (study Evolutionary Psychology if you don’t believe me), so they shouldn’t interfere with that urge.  If they do, they later become depressed and seriously mentally ill, possibly leading to suicide, because they’ve violated their primary function as breeding humans.  Personally, I think this law doesn’t go far enough to protect the consciences of women.  Here’s the sort of thing they should be doing:,14393/ 

  • FearlessSon

    Jurgan has a point in that such laws, to be an effective deterrent to abortion, depend on an assumption that all women want to have children deep down, and such ultrasounds images are designed to trigger some kind of empathic response which will cause them to falter in their course. 

    It is a simple case of assumed gender essentialism. 

  • P J Evans

     There are, in fact, women who think that all women want to be mothers. The one I heard it from was not what I would consider a good mother – but that was her problem, not mine.

    I want the legislators who think this is a good idea (whatever state they’re from) to be required to get the smae kind of scan at the nearest equivalent to the location they’re requiring for women. And I want the doctors to chill the probe before the scan.

  • Chris Doggett

    Remember folks, this is the same political party that doesn’t think the government has the right to dictate what kind of light bulbs you use, and thinks that regulations on child labor and manditory lunch breaks are job-killing tyranny. Or, as the West Wing put it: “They want to shrink the federal government down until it’s just small enough to fit in your bedroom.”

  • Michael Pullmann

    Or inside a woman’s vagina.

  • Anonymous

    The way this week has gone, I’m now thinking that being overrun by the Vandals would be a good thing.

    I think the more scary thing than how batsh** crazy the fundagelical conservative republican legislators are is the implication that there are more than enough batsh** crazy voters there are to put them in office.

    I would say more, but I simply cannot think coherently right now.

  • mmy


    A government mandated transvaginal ultrasound is basically government mandated object rape. The person performing the procedure is being forced, again by the government, to insert an object into the vagina of a woman — without or without that woman’s consent.

  • Diez

    I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all women in Virginia to move out.  Take your time, your money, your skills, and go to a place that appreciates them, and you, as the State of Virginia clearly does not.

    I would also like to encourage everyone who is related to a woman to move out of Virginia in protest.  Because the state of Virginia wants to rape women.  They want to rape your wife.  Your daughter.  Your sister.  Your *mother.*  They believe they have the right to do so, and have made a law that says as much.  You would have to be a hateful, hateful person to live in a state that demands the right to rape your mother.  The State of Virginia wants to rape your mother.  So don’t live there.

    It’s a shame, really.  I hear there are some nice mountains in Virginia.  But mountains are a poor compensation for the right to rape you and the people you love at will.

  • JarredH

    In theory, that sounds nice.  In reality, moving to a different state just isn’t a viable option for some (I imagine many, actually) people.

  • Anonymous

    Naw, not my mother!  My mother’s not like those sluts on welfare getting abortions of convenience!

    (It’s starting to hurt, getting this deep into character)

  • Guest

    I had severe abdominal pain a few years back, and my doctor had me go in for a ultrasound.  I found that the tranvaginal ultrasound was far more uncomfortable physically and psychologically than any other medical procudure that I have had (I would rather have surgery again than that).  To make a women go though that for no reason should be a case for medical malpractice.

  • Anonymous

    So it’s worth risking the physical, mental, emotional, and financial health, if not the actual life (and often it is the actual life) of a born human in which family and society have already invested at least ten, hopefully twenty or more, years’ worth of resources in in order to take the chance that the unborn human will become a born human in which family and society will need to invest decades’ worth of resources in?

    Okay, yes, sometimes. But only with the woman’s consent.

    Consent to sex is not consent to getting pregnant. Consent to getting pregnant is not consent to staying pregnant. And sometimes the woman doesn’t even consent to sex, never mind to getting or staying pregnant.

    In related questions, what punishment do you propose for the woman who has an abortion? And how do you propose to distinguish between a woman who had a miscarriage and a woman who had an abortion without risking compounding the trauma the woman’s just been through?

  • P J Evans

     Please take your male privilege and put it where the sun will never, ever shine on it.

  • Kish

    Feel free to push for abortion being outlawed.

    Don’t feel free to act as though it already was.

  • Ross

    We get it. You’tr not a christian, sicne you are opposed to the central message of Jesus,  kindness and compassion. You don’t believe the bible since it does not consider fetuses to be people until they reach viability. You do support murder because you favor policies that will lead to women dying from complications during pregnancy, or from unsafe back-alley abortions.

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Ross

    No. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t.  Either you know this, in which case you are a liar, or you do not, in which case you are ignorant. In either case, I think this thing your doing could be considered blasphemous.

    Exodus 21:22-25 (Septuagint text):

    And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her child be bornimperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty: as the woman’s husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    So, inducing a miscarriage is not murder unless the child is “perfectly formed”. There isn’t a single word in the bible that mentions life beginning at conception — there are some passages which suggest that life begins *before* conception: Jeremiah 1:4-5:

    Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    But what now, so life begins before conception, so.. abstainence is murder?It should hardly be surprising that the bible doesn’t claim life begins at conception — conception happens several days after intercourse. The ancients wouldn’t have any way of knowing *WHEN CONCEPTION HAPPENED*.

  • Ross

    If GOd knows us before conception, then he *knows which ones* (about a third) will naturally miscarry. He knows which ones will die in utero of massive genetic defects. He knows which ones will be aborted.

    He knows. You don’t. Your choices, based on what the bible says, is that life begins *BEFORE CONCEPTION* or that it begins at quickening. Nothing in the bible mentions conception. You are a liar for saying otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    When two men scuffle and deal a blow to a pregnant woman, so that her children abort-forth, but other harm does not occur, he is to be fined, yes, fined, as the woman’s spouse imposes for him, but he is to give it only according to the assessment. (Exodus 21:22, Everett Fox translation)

    Cause an abortion, the Bible says, and the worst you get is a fine, and that only if the presumed babydaddy thinks you should be fined. Explain that away.

  • Anonymous

    someone who chooses to act sexually irresponsible

    So it’s all right to have an abortion if you’re sexually responsible, that is, already on the Pill or if the condom broke? Good to know.

    The verse is saying, abortion without the woman’s [husband’s] consent is illegal, but not nearly so bad it deserves the punishment being worse than a mere fine. The Bible says not a single word about abortion with the woman’s consent, which, since so much of the Bible is concerned with thou-shalt-nots, tells me that abortion with the woman’s consent is not a thou-shalt-not.

    Also, if I believed God exists, which I don’t, I’d be a hell of a lot more concerned with God asking me ‘Why didn’t you protect the least of these?’ if I were anti-keeping-abortion-legal instead of pro-. She’d be talking about the women.

  • Consumer Unit 5012


    Are you saying that this verse gives you permission to kill an unborn human?

    Of course not.  That would be Psalms 137:9.

    Oh, wait, whoops.  That only gives permission to kill BORN babies, not fetuses.

  • Tricksterson

    How does that apply to the question of abortion.

  • Tricksterson

    Where does it say that?  Give actual book, chapter and verse please?

  • Wednesday

     Wait, wait, you’re bringing the bible into an abortion discussion? Have you even read the bible with an eye towards whether God explicitly forbids abortion?

    Because I have. And this is what I have found:
    – God occasionally required the slaughter of the unborn (along with their mothers) in the Old Testament.
    – Infants weren’t supposed to be counted by any census until they were a few months old (age depending on sex).
    – If two men fight and cause a miscarriage in a pregnant bystander, they pay a penalty that is nothing like the penalty they would pay if they’d killed a born child, or an adult.
    – If a pregnant woman is suspected of adultery, she must undergo a trial by ordeal that will cause her to miscarry if she did in fact commit adultery. God’s law required the deaths of fetuses that are the product of adultery.
    – The definition of murder stated explicitly in the old testament does not include abortion. Ergo, the commandment prohibiting murder does not apply to abortion.
    – God says absolutely nothing about women choosing to terminate their own pregnancy.
    – Moses says absolutely nothing about women choosing to terminate their own pregnancy.
    – Jesus says absolutely nothing about women choosing to terminate their own pregnancy.

    The only passages I have found that could be construed to be anti-abortion are not anti-abortion if read literally or in their historical context — basically, you have to already have decided in advance that you’re going to find something in the bible to justify being anti-legal-abortion and pro-object-rape-of-women-seeking-abortion.

    But if you’ve found one I’ve overlooked, one that doesn’t require significantly ignoring the biblical and historical context of the passage, then by all means, cite chapter and verse for us.

  • Anonymous

    Talk about biblical ignorance…. There is not enough space to correct your terrible theology.

    There’s plenty of space. You just don’t want to admit that you can’t actually subscribe to a biblical view of abortion without at least acknowledging that the Bible has nothing against abortion.

  • Ross

    You still haven’t explained how the position literally spelled out there in the text of the bible is so radically opposite of the position you insist is biblical. 

  • Ross

    I’m seeing the text that is actually there, which is inconvenient for you I know.  The text I see says that inducing a miscarriage without the mother’s consent is a crime, but not nearly so severe a crime as murder. A crime where the father is empowered to literally *waive* any punishment.

    The text I see says nothing about life beginning at conception. It says nothing about *conception*.  But it does make it 100% explciitly clear that inducing a miscarriage is *NOT MURDER* if the fetus is not “perfectly formed”.

    The disconnect here is that I’m seeing the words that are actually there. Not the words you really want to be there.

  • Wednesday

    Frank, all you have to do to refute me is to cite chapter and verse. I gave you many examples, which I would be happy to provide citations for (some people have already started to — thanks, Ross!). You’re the one who brought the bible into this, though, so the burden of proof is on you.

    And that Psalm you finally cited is about God _knowing_ people before they existed.  If he’s omniscient, that’s not really a surprise, and there’s no reason
    to infer from that that God takes any position on abortion.  It’s not a prohibition of anything, and the speaker isn’t even God, it’s someone praising how amazing God is.

     And if God knowing people before they are even conceived is your evidence that he opposes humans killing fetues, why would he require the slaughter of fetuses by his chosen people in a war? Didn’t he already know all of those fetuses before they were conceived? And why would he require that pregnant women suspected of adultery drink a potion that will kill the embryo or fetus if they are guilty? That’s not just God chosing to do things himself (which you say he can do and that’s totes different from what we can do), he’s requiring humans to get involved.

    Back in the days of the OT, God took the time to forbid a lot of things, from eating pork and shellfish to weaving clothes out of mixed fibers. If abortion really is murder, why didn’t he include that when he defined murder?

    Cite me a chapter and verse that makes it clear that God prohibits humans from terminating pregnancies (or at least from terminating pregnancies when he’s not demanding them to). Honestly, it can’t be that hard, of abortion really is against the bible.

    (PS. It’s cute how you accuse me of playing God, without even knowing my sex or, assuming I’m female, whether I’ve had an abortion, or would ever choose to have an abortion. Heck, you don’t even know whether I think abortion is morally wrong to any degree — just that I know the bible says zilch on the subject.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Hey Frank, can I have your coat?

  • Andrew Abrams Marchant-Shapiro

    I’ve written on this here: 

    Dahlia Lithwick and my daughter’s postings on Facebook grabbed my attention, and I looked at the law.  No exceptions.

    Normally, the insanity surrounding abortion is absolutely appalling.   But this is something other:  this effectively turns the State of Virginia into a rapist. 

    Stop state rape.  Now.

  • Brandi

    I wonder if anyone will add a rider to the bill that all men seeking to have a Viagra prescription filled will have to be tested for sexually trasmitted disease? (Said tests often involve a surprisingly large swab up the urethra.)

  • FangsFirst

    I wonder if anyone will add a rider to the bill that all men seeking to
    have a Viagra prescription filled will have to be tested for sexually
    trasmitted disease? (Said tests often involve a surprisingly large swab
    up the urethra.)

    State Senator Janet Howell suggested a rectal exam for ED prescriptions.

  • Anonymous

    Michael Pullman, no, it’s not true. A transvaginal probe is standard medical procedure for abortions (says my girlfriend, who works as a medical interpreter), as a safety precaution. Requiring the woman to look is not standard procedure, but, “having seen many of those images, it takes a very careful and lengthy procedure to get an image that faintly resembles a human being, and that’s not done with the probe equipment available in a clinic.” She sourly comments, “I wonder if the idiots think that female babies come with little pink ribbons in their hair and boy babies come clutching a GI Joe.” 
    So it’s a creepy law, but it does more harm to the reputation of Virginia and its state
    legislature than to women seeking abortions.

  • mmy

    A transvaginal probe is standard medical procedure for abortions (says my girlfriend, who works as a medical interpreter), as a safety precaution. 

    Not according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. According to their own guidelines “An ultrasound exam may be done to confirm the date of the pregnancy.”  Note that the purpose of the ultrasound, if done, is just to confirm the date of the pregnancy not as a “safety precaution.”

  • JohnKnl

    I said this in the comments section of the article listed above and I’ll say it again now.

    This is not about medicine. This is only partially about abortion. This is about humiliating women. They chose to use a probe because it sort of sounds medical. If they had the courage to included a provision that involved tarring and feathering women seeking abortions or posting their name on an online blacklist they probably would have.

    Oh, and speaking of a blacklist — this is mentioned in that article and in a WaPo piece I just got through:

    Rather, they are jazzed at the idea that subjecting women to blatant
    coercion, coupled with the bill’s requirement that the test results be
    kept forever in women’s medical files, will generate sufficient duress
    to discourage abortions. Women who refuse to examine the ultrasound
    image will be made to sign a statement to that effect, which will also
    remain part of their medical records.

    What that boils down to is that this will be a part of your permanent medical record, which serves no useful purpose (why would choosing not to look at an ultrasound photo be a part of your medical record? is there any purpose other than to spook women who are trying to resist intimidation?)

    Incidentally, this is why I don’t respect some libertarians. Some of them will swear up and down that being forced to file the 1040 every year is the worst slavery imaginable, but when something like this rolls around, you don’t hear a peep from them.

  • Lori

    What that boils down to is that this will be a part of your permanent medical record, which serves no useful purpose (why would choosing not to look at an ultrasound photo be a part of your medical record? is there any purpose other than to spook women who are trying to resist intimidation?)   


    I think the worst part about this particular bit of asshatery is that you lose no matter what you do. If you refuse to look at the ultrasound image the assholes will deem it proof that you knew it was a baybee and couldn’t look at it before willfully murdering it. If you look and then go ahead with the abortion the assholes will say that its proof that you’re a heartless bitch because only the worst sort of person could look at a picture of her baybee and then kill it any way. 

    Mandating a notation in the medical record serves no purpose other than to intimidate women into not having a legal medical procedure. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Incidentally, this is why I don’t respect some libertarians. Some of them will swear up and down that being forced to file the 1040 every year is the worst slavery imaginable, but when something like this rolls around, you don’t hear a peep from them.

    We’ve got some here. Shall we hear from them about Ron Paul’s strong stance against this?

  • Rzinsius

    You know, Fred, I think you should forego your Left Behind critiques. The issues with religion and politics that are going on now are so important and so immediate that spending time on old, dated silly tepid pot-boilers is like beating a dead horse.

    And of course, if the dead horse was a filly, beating it would be legal in Virginia.

  • Anonymous

    Trigger Warning: Rape, Racism.

    This is nothing less than State-sanctioned Sodomy. The Commonwealth of Virginia has basically reduced all women/girls of child-bearing age to the status of concubine that Sally Hemmings had while in Thomas Jefferson’s service as a slave. one of the ironies here is that the official motto of the Commonwealth is “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus always to tyrants”) and it’s official Seal shows Freedom victorious over Tyranny. Unfortunately, it would seem that the Commonwealth has now enthusiastically embraced sexual tyranny.

  • Anonymous

    “”An ultrasound exam may be done to confirm the date of the pregnancy.”

    Yes, that’s the point: a different abortion procedure may be used depending on the date of the pregnancy. The ultrasound also is also used to locate the uterus so that the risk of puncturing the uterine wall is reduced.

    I don’t have a quick web cite for you, but Planned Parenthood does mention that an ultrasound may be required for an in-clinic abortion. link.

  • mmy

    Yes, that’s the point: a different abortion procedure may be used depending on the date of the pregnancy. The ultrasound also is also used to locate the uterus so that the risk of puncturing the uterine wall is reduced

    But if you go to the actual college of Physicians they make it absolutely clear that the decision as to whether any ultrasound be done it is up to the judgement of the doctor and the patient.

    It has been like that for years. It is done when it needs to be done. It is not a procedure that needs to be mandated by anyone other than the doctor and the patient.

    To force the doctor and/or the patient to take part in this procedure is: (take your pick)

    1)  practicing medicine without a license
    2) mandating torture 
    3) object rape.

    Don’t even pretend that it is anything else.

  • Anonymous

    At this point, I think we are both arguing beyond our knowledge of law and medicine, and I’d rather we got more facts than did more grandstanding.

  • mmy

    I’d rather we got more facts than did more grandstanding.

    I went to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a primary source in order to find out what the best practices of board certified American doctors might be.

    I am not “grandstanding.” Bringing in actual data and referring back to primary sources is usually described as “doing properly sourced research.” You consider relying on qualified professionals as opposed to newspaper reports and anecdata as “grandstanding” then, rather obviously, actual facts and data are of little interest to you.

  • LifeinTraffic

    There is more than one kind of ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound is not usually necessary for abortions. The law other posters have spoken of in Texas doesn’t require vaginal penetration, just a standard ultrasound. Also, it’s absolutely worth noting that an amendment that said a standard ultrasound could be used if it provided the same information as the transvaginal. There’s absolutely no medical reason for that, obviously, if they provide the same information. The only reason is very clear: to mandate vaginal penetration of women. There is no other reason to not have accepted the alternative.

  • LifeinTraffic

    *worth noting that an amendment that said a standard ultrasound could be used was shot down.

  • Anonymous

    I hate this discussion. We none of us know the law–I think I’m the only creature commenting who has actually read it, or Griswold, which appears to be an important relevant decision. We none of us know medical best practices. Yet here we are trying to draw conclusions.

    The thing I am fairly sure of is that this law interposes law between doctor and patient, in contravention of the line of Supreme Court privacy decisions that start with Griswold and continues through Roe. That makes it a very bad law, and one that may give the Supreme Court an excuse to discard both Griswold and Roe. For me, that is more than enough reason to oppose it.

    If I have the right link, you can read the final text of the Virginia law, here:  The text doesn’t say transvaginal, though it has been interpreted to require it. Does anyone know who made that interpretation, and what their reasoning is?

    If TVU is not medically necessary before an early-term abortion, why is it standard practice at (I think) Planned Parenthood in a very liberal city? PP doesn’t do things against the interests of the women they serve, they just don’t.

    This debate may discourage women who can make good use of abortion services, even in places far away from Virginia. That alone discourages me; just discussing it may make the problem worse, the way it is said to be unwise to speak of the devil.

    So far:
    1. We know this law infringes on reproductive freedom.
    2. I think it may also affect the implied constitutional right of privacy.
    3. We don’t know why the law requires a TVU
    4. We don’t know what medical best practices are in this area
    5. This discussion may be making matters worse.

    We are talking crazies.

  • Anonymous

    Discussion over at the original article says that transvaginal ultrasound is not always used; some clinics use it and others do not. What best medical practice is, we don’t know; all my girlfriend knows are the practices of some local clinics in our very liberal city.

    Regardless of medical best practices, it’s still an invasive law.

  • Anonymous

    When I got my abortion, I DID NOT get an transvaginal ultrasound, so I can tell from experience that it is NOT a standard procedure for all abortions. I got the regular belly ultrasound (don’t know if there’s a fancy name for that) to make sure I was far enough along for them to do the vaccuum type of abortion (don’t know if there’s a fancy name for that either). You see, I had only missed 1 period, but I wanted to get this thing over with ASAP, and they said that they can’t do that sort of abortion until you’re at least 5 or 6 weeks along, because the embryo has to be big enough for the doctor to see in there with the naked eye.

    Or at least that’s what they told me. They didn’t force me to look or anything, they just did that along with checking my blood to make sure I wasn’t anemic and then told me I was good to go.

    Of course that was 11 or 12 years ago, before my state (TX) enacted its own ‘forcing you to look at an ultrasound and listen to a pro-life lecture before having an abortion’ legislation. I only had to do the medically necessary prep stuff, and get counseling to make sure I was sure this is what I wanted to do (and the counselor was VERY nice and didn’t try to sway me either way, and even helped me feel better about certain family members who were slut-shaming me about it). It felt bad enough already that I had to go through this abortion, even WITH the counselors and nurses at the clinic being nice about it. Wouldn’t been horrible to have to go through what women have to go through now.

    It just really annoys me when people who obviously HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE AN ABORTION, go talking about these things. But I guess women like me are too scared to speak up. I know I would never say this in any venue where I would be easily identified.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and I just realized that maybe people are confused because there is more than one type of ultrasound. This Virginia law is making women go through a more invasive type than the usual ultrasound people think of.

  • Ross

    My understanding is that the law does *not* mandate that a transvaginal ultrasound be used, just that there be an ultrasound. Since standard ultrasounds don’t work during the first trimester, the transvaginal ultrasound is required in those cases. 

    I think this is basically why this didn’t get shut down a lot sooner: the men  voting didn’t actually understand at first the implications of the rule, and, in that way characteristic of GOP men voting on the rights of women, when someone told them, their brain said “I know what an ultrasound is, and it’s not what this baby-killer is describing.” so they are persisting in processing the requirment of a transvaginal ultrasound as some kind of exceptional or corner case that Those People are trying to use to “get away with” something.

  • Becky

    Since standard ultrasounds don’t work during the first trimester, the transvaginal ultrasound is required in those cases.

    I keep seeing that, but I’m confused because I had an abdominal ultrasound to determine the age of the fetus at 6 weeks pregnant.  (And let me tell you, seeing the image only reinforced to me that a 6 week fetus isn’t a baby… it just looked like a blob.)

  • Ross

    I don’t know what exactly are the parameters that determine what kind of ultrasound has to be used, but the earliest picture I have of my son was also taken at about six weeks, and had to be done via TV ultrasound.

    I like to say he looked like a marshmellow peep at the time.

  • Anonymous

    My information comes from someone who has been present at dozens, if not hundreds, of actual abortions and who also did escort duty, back when. That’s a primary source. I also have anecdotal data from the comments on Lithwick’s original post, but “the plural of anecdote is not data.” Are you a practitioner, have you talked to anyone who has actually worked in a clinic or is knowledgeable in current practice, or looked at current literature in the field? What are your sources?

  • Lori

    mmy told you her source—the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That’s quite a bit broader view than 1 clinic worker and some commenters on an internet article.   

    Also, the fact that some doctors in some places routinely perform a particular procedure does not make it the best or right thing to do. That’s why groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists publish findings on best practices. 

    Beyond all of that, even if every abortion provider in the state of Virginia routinely performed a transvaginal ultrasound before performing an abortion it would still not be acceptable for the state legislature to mandate it.

  • Anonymous

    No argument on the mandate: I think the law may actually be an attack on the fourth amendment right to be secure in one’s own person and the rights of privacy that come out of Griswold, which misogynistic fanatics have hated since it was decided.

    If mmy–or anyone–has access to the relevant ACOG best practices in this area, let them cite them and provide relevant quotes, if that is permitted.

  • Eloise

    With both my children the dating ultrasound was done externally, the last one in 2009. 

    With my son they did the more extensive ultrasound a little later on for the nuchal scan. I think this was around 11 weeks, and the 3D image looked like a gummi bear caught in a lava lamp.  (We were quite proud.) 

  • Matri

    Nothing to explain away. God said this.

    Standard Christianist response when they just realized that their Bible actually says the opposite of their position

  • P J Evans

     Frank, you’re a poor excuse for a troll.
    Go improve your reading comprehension before you come back.

  • cyllan

    Not that this isn’t a fascinating discussion, but it doesn’t really matter what the Bible says about abortion one way or another.  Despite a number of attempts to rewrite history, the law of the United States is based upon an entirely different set of documents. Other nations have different documents, but I am not aware of any that specifically point to the Christian Bible as a legal text.

    If a Christian believes she should not get an abortion because it violates the tenants of her religion, then she is free to not get an abortion.  My religion fairly firmly supports the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy should she feel that it is in her best interests.   Neither of these two positions are relevant to the legality of abortion.

  • cyllan

    Also, I am in the middle of cooking two very tasty stews, and I successfully made homemade guacamole this afternoon.  I would offer to share the guacamole for it was very very good, but the cyllan-spouse and cyllan-child ate it all.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    … The physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a
    medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman, despite clear ethical
    directives to the contrary.

    What, exactly, would stop a doctor from simply claiming he or she did the procedure when in fact no such thing occurred, because said doctor does not believe in intruding upon women’s bodies for the sake of making a few old men feel good about controlling 50% of the population?

    Unless they’re going to mandate security cameras inside every gyno’s office, there’s no way the law could realistically be enforced.

  • Tricksterson

    Enh, they probably don’t really care whether or not it’s enforced.  Like 99% of all lwas, bills, statutes etc the purpose isn’t actually to accomplish anything but to look like you really really care.

  • Wednesday

    Well, a patient or a patient’s partner/parent could report the gyno for violating the law. Or a co-worker could pull an Abby Johnson. Or the state, which has made it clear it loves to nose into women’s lives and bodies, could pass an additional law where it can ask patients if they were forcibly vaginally penetrated with the probe… and then arrest the doctor if they were not.

    (Yes, anti-legal-abortion individuals do get abortions or take their children to get abortions. See also

  • Lunch Meat

    Genesis 2:7 makes it perfectly clear that a soul/spirit enters someone, and they become a living being, when they take their first breath. Not when the body is first formed and looks like a human, even when it’s God’s hands literally doing the forming.

  • Lunch Meat

    Really? Then Psalm 139:13 is only talking about David, and not the rest of us.

  • P J Evans

     Nope. The Bible’s versions of Creation should not be, and were never intended to be, taken literally. There is nowhere IN the Bible that says it’s supposed to be taken literally. That’s a modern misinterpretation.

    Religion fail.

  • Lunch Meat

    If Genesis 2:7 only applies to Adam, why doesn’t Psalm 139:13 only apply to David? After all, no other person is literally mentioned.

    I’m still waiting for you to respond to my fallacy.

  • Lunch Meat

    I majored in Bible and I know Greek. Thanks.

  • Lunch Meat

    I will when you tell me your credentials for reading God’s mind and not even having to explain your interpretations.

  • Lunch Meat

    My point is that an unborn fetus isn’t a human, and my justification is that we are not human until we take our first breath. My direct scriptural citation is Genesis 2:7, showing that even though Adam had the form of a human, even though God shaped Adam with God’s own hands, he was not a living being until he breathed. Indirectly, breath is tied to spirit/soul throughout the Bible. Note that the Greek word pneuma means both spirit and breath. The Bible never talks about a heartbeat as proof of life. It’s the breath.

  • Lunch Meat

    And the fact that you still haven’t (and aren’t going to, troll) explained why Genesis 2:7 ONLY applies to the first humans but Psalm 139 DOESN’T only apply to David (the only person mentioned) tells me that you aren’t arguing seriously and have never had to defend a Biblical interpretation to someone who didn’t already agree in your life, much less write a 20-page exegesis paper.

  • Lunch Meat

    Maybe I am not reading things correctly but what are you asking?

    Maybe? I would say definitely; your reading comprehension skills are seriously lacking.

    You said that Psalm 139:13 is a statement about all humans, despite only David being mentioned. The fact that David says God formed during pregnancy means that David was a human person with a soul during pregnancy, and therefore all fetuses are.

    I said that Genesis 2:7 is a statement about all humans, despite only Adam being mentioned. The fact that Adam was explicitly stated to be alive after God breathed the breath of life into him means that Adam was not spiritually/theologically alive until that point, despite having the form of a human, and therefore all fetuses are not people with souls until they are born and breathe.

    Notably, NEITHER verse mentions abortion or when it’s okay to kill someone. We are BOTH taking verses out of a poetical context and NEITHER literally says what we say it means. I think my argument is much better than yours.

    Regardless, I’m only arguing with you because you’re amusing, and I know you’re not going to be able to respond to this post because it requires a degree of understanding beyond “My pastor told me this is what the verse means, therefore it’s true.” I studied and thought about this myself. Can you do that?

  • Lunch Meat

    Lol. I’ve made my case, you haven’t responded to it. I’m going on to more productive conversations. See you.

  • hapax


    So what reading of Gods word brings you to the position that it is ok to kill or support the killing of an unborn human?

    Well, if I had your infantile grasp of Scriptural interpretation, which I thank God I grew out of decades ago, I could go with, hmm, Psalm 137.9, or Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, or Hosea 9:11-16, or of course that old favorite, Hosea 13:16.

    (Note:  I originally had the text included in those citations, but stripped them out out of respect for those triggered by horrific descriptions of violence against women and children.  Do NOT look them up, if you are easily triggered.)

  • hapax

    No, Frank.

    The passages I cited *do* however, explicitly and unambiguously claim that God sanctions –or in some cases, actively participates in — the slaughter of infants and “unborn humans” (and the pregnant women, as well).

    Unlike the vague passages you cite, which require some fancy tapdancing to suggest the opposite.

    So, that leaves us with two choices: either God gleefully endorses the slaughter of innocent men, women, children, embryos, blastocysts, and also much cattle; or there are at least some passages in the Biblical scriptures that were interpolated by flawed human beings.

    I know which stand I take, Frank.  What’s yours?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    /gets popcorn

  • P J Evans

     You’re the one who’s being obnoxious, troll.
    Why should your personal views be given precedence over those of the other 300 million people in the US? Who died and made you God?”

  • P J Evans

     The same ones that make you believe you have the right to tell everyone else what to do.
    Ignorant, bigoted troll.

  • Invisible Neutrino


  • Guest-again

    ‘It will never be anything else.’
    Well, except for all the times it won’t become a human – estimates based on various studies running between 66 and 80 or so percent of the time. In other words, the majority of fertilized eggs never even reach the stage of being identifiable as human when they are discharged, generally one or two months after having been fertilized.

    Stay up with how things work – it helps avoid making silly mistakes based on wrong information.

    And this is certainly interesting –
    ‘The Capitol ground rules say that we cannot assemble, hold signs,
    chant, yell or protest. We think silence in the face of this struggle
    and their unconstitutional rules presents the strongest response to
    their assault on women. Please come out and stand up for our rights and
    for the rights of all women in VA to choose the best reproductive route
    for themselves. These people are used to signs, yelling, chanting etc.
    It is not new. They are not used to silently being stared at and having
    to look us in the eye. It gives us the power.’

  • Invisible Neutrino

    You are engaging in sophistry trying to confuse the definition of “human” (a biological term) with the definition of “person” (a legal term).

    That is the last I will say to you on this topic.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I think now would be a good time to get a TFTM post in. This endless series of go-rounds on abortion with people who ride in on their high horse will, as the term implies, not end.

  • Lori

    I think now would be a good time to get a TFTM post in. This endless series of go-rounds on abortion with people who ride in on their high horse will, as the term implies, not end.

    This troll certainly doesn’t rise to the level of being worth responding to. 

    Also, am I the only one who hates it when people don’t quote what they’re responding to? Using “reply” only identifies the name of the commenter and that’s fairly useless when the post was back in the thread or when there are multiple comments by the same person. It’s one thing when the thread is moving slowly so the reply is very close to the original comment, but when a thread picks up speed or someone is catching up on a thread that’s been going for a while it’s just confusing. 

    Combining the lack of context with Frank’s lack of anything worthwhile to say plus his wholly unjustified confidence in his own cleverness makes the whole conversation especially useless.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Whoa, would you look at that Frank dude, folks?

  • Anonymous

    What we see here with Frank is a classic case of “cargo cult”* argument. Frank has seen that attacking an opponents education, and deriding their arguments as weak and unsupported are powerful rhetorical tactics that can be used to win arguments. However when he deploys them himself, it is without an understanding of their meaning, and so they become mere gestures, devoid of content. Note the complete inability to support any rhetorical move leading to a conversation that is, on his end, contextless stream of disconnected gambits.