All Your Conscience Are Belong to Us

My First Things column from today:

Through its mouthpieces, the administration has already begun to argue that “an institution does not have a conscience.” This is utter nonsense. The missions of the church are predicated on conscience, and conscience and mission feed and build upon one another. Conscience is what sent Catholic religious women to drag Civil War soldiers off the battlefields and into their hospitals, regardless of uniform; it is what put Catholic charities and hospitals and schools in place often before civil authorities thought to intervene; it is why the Vatican provides funding for adult stem cell research.

Institutional conscience is behind our government sending billions of dollars to Africa, to combat death by AIDS and malaria. Indeed, President Obama himself cannot deny the truth of it; he recently suggested that conscience is what animates his institutional policies.

Here is another truth: everything that rises must converge. Fractured ideology and theology are now rising and converging, and whether they raise our discourse or further divide will depend upon our ability to articulate and absorb sometimes subtle arguments without allowing our attention to be diverted from the central matter at hand: does the government have any business inserting itself into our religious conscience with the intention of commanding it? Should its reach extend into our theological musings as a means of effecting our eventual, and unsubtle marginalization?

You can read it all here

Meanwhile, Bookworm is firing off about the Transvaginal Ultra Sound as Rape narrative:

There’s a reason for Lithwick’s hyperbole, though, and it’s not because she’s upset about the Virginia law. Or at least, that’s only the smallest part. My sister, who is as uninterested in politics as can be, called me today outraged that Republicans generally, and Santorum specifically, are making contraception illegal. She was completely taken aback when I explained that Republicans are only trying to preserve a status quo that has been in place since 1965; namely, that contraceptives and abortifacients are freely available everywhere in the U.S., but that churches don’t have to pay for them.

The Democrats are not making contraceptives even more available than they’ve been before, which is an impossibility given their current unlimited availability. Instead, they are seeking to shift costs onto employers, including religious organizations and individuals who are doctrinally opposed to contraceptives and abortifacients.

My sister was receptive to the truth, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explain to her the entire story. She got that she was the victim of a Big Lie. Most voters, however, aren’t my open-minded sister and, even worse, they don’t have me sitting there walking them through the lies and smears. Instead, they’re begin manipulated into believing that Republicans and conservatives are depriving women of all access to contraceptives and then, once they’re pregnant, raping them. That’s the Big Lie, and that’s what Democrats think will win them the election in 2012.

Many commentators have shuddered at the way in which Republican candidates are stupidly making this election about women’s sexual rights. What they miss is that the whole abortion/contraception issue is a tar baby* that Democrats placed squarely in the Republicans’ path, so that it was impossible for Republicans to avoid.

Russell Shaw: A Series of Ugly Events:

If the bishops reject this deal, they don’t have a lot of options. Closing down thousands of Catholic institutions and programs isn’t likely. Remedial legislation pending in Congress has little chance of becoming law with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House. As for simply refusing to obey the HHS rule, it’s a last resort.

​That leaves litigation.

Josh Good: Last Thursday’s hearing was chilling

David P. Goldman: Memo to Jews: after they come for the Catholics, they will come for us

Mark Shea: The Mentality of our Ruling Class

It is about power, and control, a contempt for the masses that insists they must be ruled, rather than lead.

“Ongoing, comprehensive Government Surveillance”

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Judith L

    Yes indeed, institutions do have consciences. Until they lose them or “educate” them in support of evil. Check out the universities and the state church of Germany ca. 1935-6. Or, more to the point, check out 2012 American universities and too many Mainline Protestant denominations. I am not a Roman Catholic, but I am praying that the bishops stand firm.

  • Gerry

    Meanwhile, Chrissie Matthews channels The Stupidest Woman in Congress.

  • Victor

    ONE of Brother Jeff’s ESC asked U>S (usual sinners) in so many spiritual words to pray for him also during “Lent”.

    Can we do “IT”?

    Really! Can we?

    Piece??? :)

  • Manny

    “The Democrats are not making contraceptives even more available than they’ve been before, which is an impossibility given their current unlimited availability. Instead, they are seeking to shift costs onto employers, including religious organizations and individuals who are doctrinally opposed to contraceptives and abortifacients.”

    That is exactly what is happening. Perfect way to phrase the issue.

  • kenneth

    This fight over the mandate is in no way a movement to simply fight the government to a draw over who pays for contraception. That is the myth and the spin put out there, and it is a warm and fuzzy rallying cry to freedom-lovers everywhere, but it is a lie. The pro-life movement’s own actions and words prove it to be a lie.
    The fight against the mandate per se, is a limited skirmish to secure a right to opt out of payment, yes. But make no mistake, these folks have every intention of trying to outlaw contraception for all Americans, even those paying out of their own pocket, and they are actively working on it right now, as we debate. The various “personhood begins at birth” ballot initiatives afoot in various states, most currently in Misssissippi and Oklahoma, I believe, would outlaw almost all forms of birth control besides condoms.
    The pill, in its many forms, and hormone-based IUDs, implants, you name it, would be felonies on par with surgical abortion under these measures. That’s not my paranoia or worst case scenario fanciful interpretation. It’s made crystal clear on the websites and in the promotional literature of the personhood supperters themselves. They try to soft-peddle the issue by saying that all “non-abortive” contraception would remain legal, but guess what? They consider all hormonal birth control to be an abortifacient, or potential one. They mean to outlaw the pill, and it’s not inconceivable they could do so in some of these states.
    This is not a movement that’s fighting the “tyrant” Obama so that we can all live by our own conscience. They’re fighting to depose the tyrant so they can take his power and make us all live by THEIR consciences. This is not a freedom fight, and the protestants, liberal Catholics and others lulled into it for the sake of universal religious freedom need to take a closer look at the agenda of the army they’re joining.
    The law being proposed in Virginia absolutely is the moral equivalent of government mandated rape. The legislature there purposely is mandating the most invasive and painful ultrasound method available purely as a way to humiliate women and to deter them from getting an abortion. Forcing someone to undergo an invasive procedure for a non-medical reason is monstrous. It is grotesquely immoral and un-American, regardless of whatever “greater good” might be at stake. It is employing the same twisted moral reasoning that was used to justify the horrors at Abu Ghraib. “If even one life is saved”…..
    The fact that Obama may be an enemy of freedom and the fact that you are his enemy clearly does not make you freedom’s friend.

  • Mark

    A very good priest friend stopped by to see me today and we were talking about this HHS fiasco and government in general. He told me he has been praying a lot about this and something came to him he wanted to run past me.

    When God created man, the purpose was to have a target for love, a receptical. The man was amazingly given free will to accept the love and to return it. When things didn’t work out well, the Father sent His Son Jesus to earth to provide a way for our salvation and eternal life in heaven. When Jesus was asked, what the most important rule was, He replied that we must love love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This was first and most important. Seems like until we have this one right, we will find everything else, if possible, a whloe lot harder. The second was Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
    I was wondering at this point what this had to do with HHS and government.

    He said if we take this viewpoint toward government dealing with man created by God with free will, and we blend into it that those elected are called the servants, not the masters, then we might suppose that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, would pay attention to our free will which would seem to rule out mandating things on us. Since 1947 and the separation of church and state reversal of the meaning of the first amendment, those that preach what Jesus taught us have been pretty much under non stop attack. The central government power grew and it began to think of itself as deserving of our obedience to them with 100% of our heart, soul, and mind. It say ever growing need that all our strength would be at their service working months to pay taxes before we arrived at where they had their fill and we could use some money for our needs. We have less freedom when our work product is taken from us to feed government. Before 1947, we would have never considered that a person running for president would have had to almost disown their faith. Imagine if the words “so help me God” had not been added by Washington when taking the oath of office as our first president. Imagine today if a new president came along and added these words today on his own? JFK had to take a pledge to leave his faith in the closet and sold out his faith for power. And while we bash those of faith saying they need to keep their faith in the closet, we celebrate same sex attracted people for coming out of the closet and advance this as the same as marriage between one man and one woman. Our society has turned faith into a negative and sin into something to be celebrated. Whitney Houston funeral was covered like Mother Thresa and no one could compare the two. The government has mandated that the state religion is secular atheist where no god is the only acceptable one for service as master over the new slaves. So if one views this ongoing movement, one arrives at a place where the President gives the finger to all those of faith and says you will obey or pay a price for the arrogance of believing you have free will, a right to conscience, a right to religious liberty.

    I thought it was interesting. We speculated on a government that looked at us as their masters and they the servants; at us as children of God with a free will. This is not a party thing, but a growing attitude and I thought it was an interesting thing to look at in what we want from our government.

  • vox borealis

    They consider all hormonal birth control to be an abortifacient, or potential one.

    That’s because all—or most all—of them are. Another fun little secret papered over by the “preventative services” cheerleaders.

    They’re fighting to depose the tyrant so they can take his power and make us all live by THEIR consciences.

    Well, I think they are trying to prevent people from being able to kill unborn babies. That’s the sort of “imposition” of conscience I can get behind.

    I’m curious, do you feel that zealots should not be allowed to impose their conscience on you by having laws passed preventing you from, say, killing your wife because you didn’t like the dinner she cooked?

  • Mark

    Kenneth, the personhood amendments were going on long before the HHS issue. I do not think anyone should be surprised that the pro life movement is going to be doing whatever it can to help the baby in the womb from being killed. That has been going on for years since Roe and long before Obama.

    As to the the issue of transvaginal ultrasound, if there is a law in place in a state that a baby cannot be killed after it is a certain age, then there has to be a way to determine if a baby has reached that age. We do this with all human life to determine for example if someone sentenced to die for a crime has had all their legal rights which includes examing everything possible. You might not like the law, but if it there and legal, how would you do the determination? I note you are using the very language of the planned parenthood email which calls the use of this product rape. That does wonders for an amazing tool used in many cases now with woman all over this country to look at early stage pregnancy issues with their baby. the medical association has come out against the use of this language about this product. So much for caring about women’s health and well being?

    You pull out all stops trying to get Abu Ghraib into the discussion. There is a battle going on for the life of the baby. One side wants to continue the holocaust, the other wants to save babies lives. I choose to be on the side of life. If the other side really cares about the safety of the mother so much, why is it that they refuse any attempt to insure all abortion mills have the same equipment required for a hospital doing surgery? If they care so much about abuse of children, why do they protect the abortion mills from hiding the work they are doing on underage children including abortions without parental notification. If they are so offended by an adult abusing a child, why are they not marching on the abortion mills demanding that they report under age pregnancies that have obviously been in most cases the result of rape since the girl is under age? Seem like this is a cover up on the largest proportions leaving the police out of the picture to investigate the crime leaving the pervert free to rape other young girls. Yes, I choose to be on the side of fighting for the rights of babies to have what is promised in our constitution, the right to life. I fight for what is promised in the first amendment of the bill of rights, to fight for liberty. I fight for both the mom and baby to be able to pursue the right to happiness for I have yet to meet many women who have had abortions that are happy. I would like to see a major study on the follow up health of women who have had abortion mandated by law including their mental health. I would like to see studies on the use of products like birth control and other products that are done without bias for the good of women and ot the pill manufacturers or the abortion mills. Women have been taking these things since 1960 in large numbers and someone should be able to determine why we are seeing such a huge increse in cancer in women at ever younger ages. Forget faith and morals on this and lets fight together so women know what they are putting in their bodies.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Kenneth, it’s demeaning to rape victims, and it trivializes rape, to compare it to ultrasounds—which are neither painful, nor invasive. Please stop it. Look, we know you believe in abortion passionately, and want to defend it, but this is really going over the line, and insults women who actually have been raped.

    No one is trying to outlaw contraception, which is cheap and easily available. Why are insurers being forced to cover birth control—whether they want to, or not? Why is the burden all being placed on them, and where, in the Constitution, does it say that the government can force a business to supply a certain product, in a certain way? and isn’t this going to result in a situation where we’re all giving “free” birth control to women who can easily afford it on their own, while being unable to pay for services for the handicapped, and truly disabled? Does not wanting to pay for the Kardashians’ birth control pills somehow make someone a hater of women, as evil as the thugs at Abu Ghraib?

    As for Abu Ghraib. . . sheesh, why not just drag in weeping polar bears, corporate tyranny and the insidious George Bush (and the Koch brothers) while you’re at it! Oh, and “Zionism”, too. And McDonald’s. It makes people fat. And the “Patriarchy”. And Vietnam. And McCarthy. If we’re going to start hauling out all the Leftist boilerplate bad guys, let’s haul ‘em all out!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Mark, you make some very good points about abortion mills.

    But, then, the issue was never really about what’s best for women. . .

  • kenneth

    The fact that you think transvaginal ultrasounds are not invasive or painful tells me you are a man, and have never seen one performed. “Not invasive”? If you took and object and do what those techs do in a situation of duress outside of a medical setting, it would be prosecuted as rape in any jurisdiction on Earth.
    Even if we all conceded the point that abortion is an evil to be ended, that does not begin to justify this ultrasound law. It is evil and Orwellian no matter how it’s justified or how holy the cause. Justifying the physical and mental torment and violation of a person’s dignity for a greater good is exactly, precisely what happened at Abu Ghraib, and in the black site torture centers in the Balkans and Middle East.
    If you truly believe no one wants to outlaw contraception, you ought to read the internal memos of your own movement more often.

  • LisaB

    Kenneth, oh please. You are such a tiresome tool.

  • kenneth

    Once people start calling me names and avoiding the substance of my argument like the elephant under the rug, I know I’ve struck paydirt! :)

  • EBL

    Well said. I am linking it to this article on the pursuit of happiness…

  • Victor

    Anchoress, I think “IT” “Time” that cooler hearts prevail!


  • Peggy

    I have had enough with the misinformation about transvaginal sonograms. the transvaginal ultrasound is at worse a tad uncomfortable. it is not painful. it feels like a normal pelvic exam. yes, I do know, I have had them before because of high risk pregnancies. Go ahead and read about them on medical sites that are not spun up about that VA law. I can’t see why any woman who plans an abortion thinks the sonogram more invasive than a run of the mill pelvic exam, let alone an abortion. Talk about invasive…sheesh.

  • kenneth

    So as long as you found the experience only a “tad uncomfortable,” there’s nothing wrong with a state-mandated penetration of someone’s privates for political, not medical reasons? Remember folks, it’s not torture, or immoral, if it doesn’t leave any marks and if it’s done in the service of a higher good. “Enhanced interrogation”.

  • HappyCatholic


    You didn’t respond to Peggy’s quite salient point — think this type of ultrasound is invasive? That will be NOTHING compared to the invasion of an abortion! (And, although this veers off-topic, I hope you are similarly outraged by the actual privacy violations perpetrated by the TSA on US citizens, whether by pornographic nude scans or aggressive full body pat-downs being performed on them — without due cause!)

  • Margaret

    I’ve had those ultrasounds, too. They are NO MORE UNCOMFORTABLE than the exam the doctor would necessarily have to do prior to performing the abortion anyway. It’s not like the doctor is just going to sprinkle pixie dust and poof the baby away– abortion and the needed physical exams surrounding it are already more uncomfortable than a TV ultrasound. (Not to mention that there’s only a tiny window, very early in pregnancy, earlier than surgical abortions are normally performed, when an abdominal ultrasound won’t work just as well.)

    While we’re at it– there pretty much has to be an ultrasound done prior to the abortion for dating purposes. Calculating from LMP is not as accurate as an ultrasound. The only difference this legislation would bring about is that now, instead of turning the monitor away and *not permitting* the woman to see it (yes, it happens) they have to give her the option of seeing it.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Kenneth, excuse me—but that’s nonsense. Equating a medical procedure with torture—and playing the Abu Ghraib card again—is sheer nonsense. (I’d call it something stronger, but the Anchoress doesn’t want that sort of language here.)

    As for not being torture or immoral if it doesn’t leave any marks, and if it’s done in the service of a higher good—well, don’t progressives make these very arguments, in favor of abortion? And isn’t the government making insurance carriers pay for abortions a state-mandated penetration of private parts for very political, and not health, reasons? Or did you think abortions, especially late term ones, simply involved waving a magic wand, or maybe a healing crystal, over a woman, with no penetration or entry into her body? Abra-cadabra, no fuss, no muss no baby?

    Do you really think abortion isn’t pretty invasive?

    The real reason Planned Parenthood doesn’t approve of these sonograms is that they don’t want anyone to recognize the humanity of the child.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, of course, the later in the pregnancy a woman has an abortion, the greater the risk to her own health. Hence, sonograms are necessary.

    This does not matter, however. Because womens’ health is not the real issue here. Ayup, ayup, ayup, sonograms are invasive, but abortions aren’t. Sonograms are torture, but abortions are easy, and involve no invasive, or painful, procedures whatsoever. Down is up, hot is cold, wet is dry, and I’ve got this really swell bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you! :)

    P.S. And planned Parenthood isn’t at all political! And I’m going to be rich, just as soon as that nice Nigerian widow sends me all that American money somebody left behind in Africa!

  • kenneth

    The point I’m making is that a state-forced medically unnecessary bodily intrusion is creepy and wrong, and un-American whether it hurts a lot or only a little bit. Is abortion all peaches and rose petals as procedures go? Of course not. If you believe it to be an evil worth outlawing, than do it cleanly. Have the courage of your convictions to tell people why you believe and what you intend to do, and why, as regards both surgical abortion and forms of contraception you believe poses a risk of abortion or thwarting of implantation etc.
    If your beliefs in this area and your faith have any real underlying moral authority, you shouldn’t need to resort to sleazy back-door de-facto bans and the corruption of the practice of medicine to deter by pain what you cannot obtain by law. The fact that this movement can hatch or even justify a medical invasion of someone’s body pretty well destroys any credentials you had as “freedom fighters.” It is also plain from the movement’s actions that the mandate fight is not ultimately about getting government off people’s backs to let them make their own choice on contraception. It is a move to ensure you have the power to choose for them.
    You can easily dismiss me as an Obama lover or Planned Parenthood lackey or whatever pejorative you think will sufficiently marginalize my argument among yourselves. That’s all part of the game and I wouldn’t play if I didn’t have thick skin. But when all the dust settles, I believe the American people will see for themselves the enormous gap between your words and actions. I believe a large majority, even many of those who want to restrict abortion, will see your total agenda and tactics are deeply at odds with the American tradition and understanding of what freedom means.

  • Margaret

    So, Kenneth, just to be crystal clear here– the current status of pre-abortion ultrasounds is that they are performed, the docs just refuse to let the women see them. And you’re cool with that, right? Current practice of keeping women disempowered is preferable to changing the practice so that the women can have the CHOICE of seeing, and the docs can’t tell her no. Am I stating your position correctly?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, Kenneth, quite honestly, I do dismiss you as an unquestioning Obama and Planned Parenthood supporter.

    For one thing, you haven’t addressed any of the issues people have raised here about the nature of sonograms, or of their necessity for some women, or their medical nature. Women have been getting sonograms for decades; why, now, are they suddenly instruments of torture, yeah, verily, like unto Abu Ghraib, if not the Inquisition?

    Now, answer honestly—is it the sonograms you’re angry about? (A pretty routine medical procedure) or is the fact that a woman looking at her child’s sonogram might decide not to abort it, and you feel this is wrong?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for outlawing abortion “cleanly”, what do you think many pro-life Catholics have been doing for years? Ever since Roe vs. Wade?

  • Kevin

    Kenneth seems to be against a woman’s right to see. Disgraceful.

  • Mark

    Keeping score here, Kenneth loses big time. He made the point over and over on something that had nothing to do with the post. He cuts and pastes from one blog to another using democratic planned parenthood talking points and never responds to anything stated by others.

    Only someone in total denial that what is in the womans womb is a baby would say that this had no medical purpose. How about saving a babies life?

    I saw today a question that changes the discussion. Those who want to give Obama this massive power and give away religious liberty need to ask themselves who their worse nightmare is on the side of religion. Pat Robertson comes to mind from the old days when he ran for president. How would their side feel about giving the power they want to give Obama to Pat Robertson or say Rush Limbaugh? The good thing about keeping our constitution as written is that when you start tweaking it you have to considef the future elections. The left loves judges who discover words that give rights like abortion or affirmative action or special rights for gays. But say we have a overwhelmingly strong majority of conservative judges who are also activist and use what the left has done to find their own words and rights. Lets say a President Romney, to win election, reaches out to Santorum, and Rush and agrees to put them on the supreme court. then he adds Ron Paul as well to the court. And they decide it is time to really change America to their vision and this is prime time to legislate from the bench. You would hear the left going crazy about their rights.

  • kenneth

    The issue is not the nature of sonograms themselves. It is the nature of sonograms in the context of state coercion. A transvaginal ultrasound is not in and of itself a medical abuse, nor even by far the worst procedure someone can undergo. I have observed cervical biopsies, and those are much worse than any sonogram. I have undergone two lumbar punctures in my life. Those were so painful that words will never convey it to someone who hasn’t themselves experienced it. Sometimes medicine is harsh, and painful.
    The key is that these are all done with the patient’s consent in a careful risk-benefit analysis with a doctor who has the patient’s interest, and no one else’s, at heart. For that matter, people voluntarily undergo painful procedures like piercing for no deeper reason than art or vanity.
    What makes this Virginia bill a heinous abuse of power is that the state is forcing someone to undergo such a thing against their will, and for no valid medical reason and no state interest which is sufficient to subject someone to this. If this were really just a mandate about establishing the age of a fetus, that could be done most of the time without an invasive ultrasound, and medical professionals, not politicians, would be making that determination.
    This is a calculated decision to force the most unpleasant and intrusive procedure available in order to deter women from obtaining a procedure that many find morally objectionable, but which is nonetheless legal. No pro-life strategist behind the bill would deny that, if they believed they were among friends. The fact that a medical procedure has a legitimate use in no way precludes it from becoming a tool of abuse in the wrong hands.
    When invasive medical procedures are mandated to achieve a non-medical, political end, they cease to be medicine. They are, rather, physical state coercion to obtain extralegal compliance to the state’s agenda. That’s torture any way you cut it, whether it’s severe, mild or anything in between. It is especially evil because it corrupts the trust of a patient doctor relationship that has been held sacred for thousands of years. In that regard it is no less evil than if the state manipulated your interactions with your priest and confessor to achieve an outside agenda. There would be blood in the streets if someone so much as drafted such a bill.
    The fact that many of you can condemn mandated insurance coverage as totalitarian while defending the physical invasion of someone’s body proves that your currency is not liberty, but raw power.

  • kenneth

    As to a “woman’s right to see” I don’t know where that enters into it. I’ve never known a doctor ever to refuse a patient’s request to view their own imaging, even if many of them are incomprehensible to a lay person. In fact, I believe the right to access one’s own medical records is enshrined in federal law already.
    IF a woman is truly obtaining an ultrasound of her own volition prior to an abortion and if that method of ultrasound was determined by her and the doctor, and not the state, I would have no problem with a requirement of a explicit offer to see the image. I still think it amounts to a heavy handed attempt by the state to manipulate someone’s conscience, but if that offer is truly voluntary, and only made once and clearly declined, I don’t think that would rise to the level of coercion that this present ultrasound bill clearly does.

  • zmama

    Risk-benefit analysis Kenneth? To a vaginal ultrasound? Along with Peggy and Margaret I also have had multiple vaginal ultrasounds (so many I lost count), due to infertility and pregnancies that resulted in miscarriage. I also have had endometrial biopsies, hysteroscopies and hysterosalpingograms, all without anaesthesia and all far more painful than any vaginal ultrasound. The MOST invasive procedures in my experience, and the one that required anaesthesia were the 2 D&Es I had to have after my first and third miscarriage to remove the placenta, since I had already passed the embryo both times on my own. Interesting that the D&E is virtually the same procedure as an early elective abortion, the only difference being of course in an elective abortion the embryo is still alive. And alive it is. With my 3rd pregnancy the first vaginal ultrasound I had at 6.5 weeks (just 2.5 weeks after my period was due) revealed a heartbeat (unfortunately one which never became as rapid as was necessary to sustain the pregnancy). Most women who have grown up hearing about the blob of tissue inside them have no idea that the heart of their baby is beating so early and can in fact be detected via a vaginal ultrasound. If pro-choicers really want women to make an informed choice why are they afraid of vaginal ultrasound as a step before a woman has a procedure like a D&E which has the risk of possible perforation of the uterus and possible sterility as a result? I know of these risks because I had to sign off on the medical forms prior to both my D&Es. I NEVER had to sign any medical risk/release forms for any of my vaginal ultrasounds. And as others have pointed out for me the vaginal ultrasounds were a lot less uncomfortable than a cold speculum and someone digging for my cervix which sits off to the side, which I have to endure with every pelvic exam. Sorry if that is TMI but I wanted to share my experience. The key is unless a woman really is informed as to what exactly is inside her, she cannot make a legitimate choice. And I totally agree with Rhinestone-trying to equate a vaginal ultrasound to rape is an insult to rape victims. Might as well say a woman is raped every time she goes to see her gynecologist.Another reason for vaginal ultrasound would be to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, which are ironically on the increase due to women having repeat abortions. Seems to me like a vaginal ultrasound would and should be standard procedure before any woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy for health reasons alone.

  • kenneth

    You’ve had a harrowing ordeal to say the least, and yes, the ultrasound was probably among the least of your trials. However, the critical issue everyone is trying to dance around here is consent. I will venture to say not a single one of your procedures was done without your consent or under the duress of state power.
    That is the element that puts Virginia’s law on an entirely different moral plane than anything people elect to undergo for their own reasons. The relative degree of pain is not what makes a state-forced medical procedure a morally obscene act. The coercion does that, and no justification anyone can offer will erase that evil. Not even its employment in fighting abortion. Evil is evil, and evil acts are not like two minus signs in an equation. They don’t cancel out to a positive.
    Nor does the state, at present, have a legitimate legal interest in deterring abortion. If it did have a legitimate interest in that, it would not have to physically abuse people in roundabout ways to exercise that interest. Abortion would be illegal, and prosecuted through the normal channels of criminal law and its safeguards.
    If a military commander in charge of prisoners, or for that matter a civilian warden forced inmates to undergo a bodily invasion for no medical or security need and forced them to do so as a condition of exercising their lawful rights, that commander would be facing a lifetime behind bars. Yet we’re supposed to believe that it is perfectly ok to do the same thing to free citizens. No movement that advocates or excuses such an act has any moral or logical grounds at all to complain about the totalitarian excess of government.

  • Donal

    Kenneth so the fact that the government can require people to violate their conscience is fine with you because of possible legislation in a couple states that is supported by some of the same people? That is a ridiculous argument. It betrays the fact that you don’t care about the “totalitarian excess of government” unless you feel those excesses violate your beliefs then you care.

  • Peggy

    This whole controversy exposes the hypocrisy and obfuscation typical of the pro-choice adherent: If abortion is not murder, if the embryo is a merely a blob of tissue, then why is there a problem with sonograms? What are they afraid of seeing? What are they avoiding? Be honest…

    Why is abortion the one “medical procedure” that does not routinely include information that provides informed consent to adult patients?
    Women are not stupid weaklings who must be protected from truth.

    If abortion is not murder, then looking at a sonogram should be no more upsetting than looking at dental x-rays.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Kenneth is also trying to change the goalposts here—steering the conversation away from religious freedom, to ultrasounds.

    And he’s insulting actual rape victims.

    He’s done a great job of playing the Abu Ghraib card, however.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    He’s also using bully tactics, to try and shame us into giving up our stand on religious freedom. “If you support this, then you can’t support this! Blah, blah, blah.”

    Trust me, if ultrasounds were banned from the abortion process, we’d soon hear the Kenneths of this world complaining that cold-hearted pro-lifers are denying poor women who need abortions the necessary sonograms and ultrasounds that could, possibly, reveal hidden medical problems, and save their lives. Why, this is—it’s akin to rape, that’s what it is! It’s also like Abu Ghraib!

    So it goes.

  • zmama

    Well said Peggy-and if what I read in the piece Anchoress linked to-that PP requires 2 ultrasounds-one before and one after the abortion-then it seems the real objection is to the woman seeing and being told what is on the screen. How is that state’s requirement for an ultrasound more coercive than PP’s requirement of 2 ultrasounds? I fail to see how the state’s requirement is coercive. Seems like routine medical testing to properly assess age and condition of the pregnancy, given the serious nature of the abortion surgery that would follow if that is what the woman chooses. I cannot imagine a doctor going in and doing a D&E on a woman who has had a miscarriage without first doing an ultrasound. And no Kenneth-my D&Es were not voluntary-nor were most of my ultrasounds. They were part of my treatment and if the doctors did not have the info gleaned from my ultrasounds before performing surgery on me-my health and possibly my life would have been at greater risk. One of the problems is we don’t recognize an abortion procedure as surgery with all the inherent risks of surgery. As a society I think we look at it as little more than getting a tooth drilled. I havenever signed consent forms or medical releases at my dentist’s office but I have with both D&E’s. We insist that parents give consent for their child to be given Tylenol in school but in many states minor daughters are able to get a surgical abortion without parental consent.

    I think Peggy nailed it-Whoever is opposed to this law does not want women choosing abortion to know all the facts, including gestational age and whether there is a detectable heartbeat. Without that information how can a woman make a truly informed choice? If those on the pro-choice side were truly advocates of choice, they would welcome this law-because they would welcome the truth. They do not and that speaks volumes about their real motives.

  • Gerry

    Is kenneth Todd’s long lost brother?

    The “logic” is just as porous.

    Hey, Kennie – a person seeking an abortion does so VOLUNTARILY.

    You can’t be forced to undergo something that you’ve sought out.

  • PattiM

    I’ve waited and waited to see if anyone else would speak up, because I really don’t want to, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. So. I am a pro-life Catholic. Really pro-life, as in no exceptions for rape or incest. I was also raped as a child. I was eight, and he used a screw driver on me first. I’m 45 now, and I cannot control what happens in my head when I am penetrated “that way” with a thing (as opposed to a human hand or um, organ). Getting pregnant was easy; getting that child into the world? The hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am not suggesting for an instant that it changes any of arguments put forth by the valiant pro-lifers here. I am suggesting that as pro-lifers, we need to be more open-minded about what may be extremely traumatic or difficult for someone and not just poo-poo it as not that big a deal, or (not on this site) how did you get pregnant, anyway? We come across as the cold, hard-hearted right wingnutters Planned Parenthood wants to portray us as. We need to be more careful about the language we use, because if we talk this way, the very women we need most to reach, the ones who are hurt, the ones who are vulnerable, they are going to tune us out. Yes, abortion may be traumatic, and involve traumatic procedures that are painful and horrid. But then it’s over, intead of having nine months of it, nine months of poking and prodding and exposure to strangers and vulnerability – nine long months stretching out ahead of you. For some women, there is no question about which one is easier. And if we don’t acknowledge that, they aren’t going to listen to us. They’re going to listen to Kenneth.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Kenneth, if a feotus is only a blog of meaningless tissue, how can the state be coercing a woman by giving her an ultrasound? Even if she sees it, it shouldn’t be any more meaningful than seeing an X-ray of your teeth, as another poster here points out.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Because, of course, abortions, especially late term ones, are simple matters, easily accomplished by the doctor waving a magic crystal in the air, as unicorns prance through the room; women really don’t need ultrasounds for them. /Sarc.

    Trust me, if ultrasounds for women seeking abortions were banned, the left would soon be wailing about how heartless pro-lifers were denying women sonograms.

    We know the drill—really, we do.

  • Brian English

    “precisely what happened at Abu Ghraib”

    Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with interrogation. It was prisoner abuse by some rogue guards. People went to jail for it. Time to move on.

  • Brian English

    “Nor does the state, at present, have a legitimate legal interest in deterring abortion. If it did have a legitimate interest in that, it would not have to physically abuse people in roundabout ways to exercise that interest. Abortion would be illegal, and prosecuted through the normal channels of criminal law and its safeguards.”

    Do you really not comprehend that the US Supreme Court’s decisions on abortion prevent that from happening?

  • doc

    Kenneth, you’ve let the mask slip here, I think. There have been times where you have somewhat convincingly claimed to be a pro-life liberal (or progressive or whatever term you wish to use). But when you oppose a procedure whose only purpose is to convince a woman to not kill her baby, we can only conclude that you are in favor of the mother killing her baby. No one who oppose abortion is in favor of a mother killing her baby.

    Patti, abortion is always traumatic. One life is always lost. One soul is always damaged. And it is often not “over” for the woman once the abortion is finished. I have spoken to many women who have regretted their abortions for the rest of their lives, and are, in fact, haunted by the decisions they made, or were persuaded or forced or pressured to make. You should show up at a 40 Days for Life vigil (starting today) where many of these victims of their own choices are fervently praying that other women not make that same lethal mistake.

  • kenneth

    “….Hey, Kennie – a person seeking an abortion does so VOLUNTARILY. You can’t be forced to undergo something that you’ve sought out……”

    Again we’re seeing a lot of fancy footwork around the critical distinctions of the issue. Of course the woman seeking an abortion does so voluntarily. In the Virginia bill, the invasive ultrasound is not voluntary, unless you mean to imply that a person implicitly gives the government permission to do whatever it likes by trying to exercise some other legal activity. If that’s really true, you should have no problem “consenting” to a body cavity search every time you board an airplane, even when a simple scanner would work. After all, you sought out the airplane ride, so anything else you undergo isn’t forced….

  • kenneth

    Abu Ghraib was in no way about a few “rogue guards.” It was the result of a conscious decision by those within our government who believed they were charged with a task so important and so righteous that it granted them full exemption from all rules, decency or accountability.
    That is what we are seeing the pro-life movement devolve into over the decades. Frustrated by the huge barrier of Roe, the movement has decided that its mission is so holy, so urgent, that it transcends all other moral consideration. The rightness of its mission has conferred a blessing upon whatever tactics it might need to reach the goal post.
    No options are off the table. Invasive bodily abuse, deception of your own allies in the mandate fight, anything goes if it might save even one life. This Virginia bill is by no means the most extreme example. There is a move afoot in South Dakota and other states to make pre-meditated homicide of an abortion doctor “self defense.”
    The scariest thing is, I don’t think it’s all a cynical ploy. I think you’ve been seduced by your own rationalizing of evil. Most of you clearly understand the dangers of state over-reach.
    Most of you have strong libertarian sensibilities on almost every other issue we can imagine. You get that the state should not be dictating religious freedom, or usurping parent’s role as moral teachers. You will work to protect your daughters against involuntary vaccination, but if she gets pregnant and seeks an abortion, well, then, she needs to just shut up and accept a white-coat rape.
    Once a person or action crosses the event horizon into The Cause, the old moral rules no longer applied. There is only Good and Evil, and since you fight for the Good, nothing you do in its service can be evil. The movement has lost the capacity for self-doubt or a sense of accountability to anything that might temper its fury. Like almost all crusades, insurgencies, jihads, it has fallen for the false promise that it can advance a moral cause with amorality. It cannot, and it will not, and it will ultimately consume itself.
    Even now, it’s clear the movement has in many ways becomes its own worst enemy. Your own language and actions are the best recruiting campaign Planned Parenthood could ever dream of. People in this country are deeply uneasy about abortion. Depending how you ask the question, probably a slight majority want to see at least elective abortion restricted by law. At the same time, they are not willing to even entertain the idea if it means having to live under your regime.

  • Mark

    The Government has over the last 60 years grown to control about every aspect of our life forcing things on us and taking away our freedom. It looks to me like everyone has their pet area of concern when their area of conscience or benefit is impaled. Our Creator gave us rights that are formed not be a desire to control us or remove our free will, but to educate us on the path to happiness. That first right is life. I think many ways the various arguments should bring a collected agreement that we need to have a much smaller and less intrusive government. What has also impaired our rights and freedom is a court that was allowed to starting changing the wording of the Constitution that attacked the right to life the Creator gave to us. One party has fought for these ever increasing attacks on our liberties far more than the other. These attacks by the ever expanding liberty gobbling central government have created a country that is as divided as it was prior to the civil war. If we want to end up in the same place again, we can vote to empower the Democratic Party to continue down the path where we have no freedoms other than those granted to us by the central government and the type of judges they want on the court. The other choice is to support the party that has many flaws, but is proposing if given enough votes, to reign in the size and scope of goverment and put judges on the bench to do what the founders intened and what they take an oath to do which is to judge based on the written words actually in the constitution. Yes, if we give them power again, and we do it this time with sufficient numbers to block filibuster, we might see many of these arguments out of federal hands and back to local states. You want all this type of squabbiling in infighting between Americans to diminish? There is only one path to do that and it means we have to defeat the Democratic Party that supports ever large growth. This spat over reiligious liberty is only the ongoing onslaught attack that exposed for a moment their overall intent.

    It is laughable that anyone who supports them would whine about losing freedom or the government forcing somone to do anything being wrong. When you see Republicans doing it, most times, not always, it is to fight a massive overreach like Roe which removed the rights of states and the people to decide about the Creator given right to life. they do not have problems with babies being butchered without anesthetic in massive pain, but cry tears and call it rape if a woman is required by law to submit to a medical proceedure to provide to her all the information required to obtain the right to have that life destroyed. That right did not come from the Creator, but from the overreaching and liberty removing right of all to live. Remember, the jews were not human. The slaves were not human. And now we are killing babies because someone has legally said they are not human, just like the courts did before in Germany and the USA with slavery. When are we going to stop allowing the courts to decide rather than the Creator.

  • Joel

    “Closing down thousands of Catholic institutions and programs isn’t likely.”
    Perhaps not, but I think it’s going to be necessary. I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is intended to wedge the Church into being slapped with crippling fines, as an avenue toward confiscating her healthcare facilities. If we don’t want out hospitals turned into abortion mills, the bishops had better take them out of commission before this mandate goes into effect.

  • Brian English

    “Abu Ghraib was in no way about a few “rogue guards.” It was the result of a conscious decision by those within our government who believed they were charged with a task so important and so righteous that it granted them full exemption from all rules, decency or accountability.”

    You don’t know what you are talking about. Are you sure you are not confusing Abu Ghraib with Gitmo?

    As for the rest of your tirade, it is a disgusting insult to the Pro-Life Movement, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • doc

    Joel, I suspect you may have something there. The all-powerful government which views itself as the sole source of moral authority and sole provider of care doesn’t want meddlesome competitors whose competence does and will continue to make government facilities look bad in comparison.

    I see Kenneth’s mask has not only slipped, but has been tossed aside with a flourish.

  • kenneth

    For those who still think they can dismiss my position as the ranting of a radical PP supporter, have a look at this: Even your own loyal pro-life politicians are recongizing this bill for the monstrous abuse of power that it is. At the very least, they’re responding to the public awareness of what it really represents.