Jan 31 2009

State senator claims ownership of Nebraska uteruses

Add Nebraska state senator Tony Fulton to the thick and oily list of misogynist fuckwads who thinks he knows better than you who should own and administrate your personal internal organs. Fulton is sponsoring one of those wackaloon anti-abortion bills requiring that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound procedure and be forced to view the resulting fetal image.

To rationalize this outrageous invasion, Fulton opines that subjecting a woman to an ultrasound will convey unto her “information about the reality inside her womb.” Fulton says that this “information” will “reduce the number of abortions.” Why? Because stupid ignorant women apparently don’t have the slightest idea what pregnancy is; they need this vital information, available only through a medical procedure, about what is really going on in their lady-ovens. If they are given the opportunity (i.e. forced) to endure a fetus-screening (“Here’s baby’s precious little beating heart, here’s his adorable little brain stem …”), they will see the error of their ways and comply with the godbag mandate to shut up and be punished for the sin of fornication by incubating to term, followed by a lifetime of child-rearing drudgery.

Of course the megatheocorporatocracy’s conspiracy against pregnant women has always sought to control them through medical procedures. As Germaine Greer points out in The Whole Woman,

Peering at the conceptus in itself has no effect whatever on its viability or pregnancy outcome, but it is now routine. The pregnant woman who refuses to present herself for her regular scans is delinquent in her duty to herself and her baby. Knowing more about her pregnancy should have empowered her, but in fact it did the opposite. Her womb is transparent to the technician, not to her. Today’s mother first meets her child on a TV monitor and cannot recognize it.”

That’s right. Nobody knows what the fuck they’re looking at when they see an ultrasound image of a fetus, but thanks to clever marketing by Medical Nation, it is widely touted as a sentimental bonding moment and has achieved the status of a cultural institution. For a woman seeking an abortion, this weepy ultrasound intervention, like most state and medical interference in private lives, is wildly inappropriate. It’s nothing but pressure to conform by shaming the woman into a culturally-mandated response. No “information” is imparted, only social cues. The only possible rationale behind any Fultonesque anti-abortion bill is to make abortion as inconvenient, shaming, and difficult as possible.

The state colonization of the American uterus must end.


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  1. BadKitty

    Amen. It’s a totally stupid law that’s got nothing to do with providing women new information.

    I worked in a clinic and saw hundreds of U/S of pregnancies. We did an U/S on every single woman that went through our clinic to confirm the age of the fetus. Every woman was given the opportunity to see the image. Very few cared to see it and no one had any clue what they were looking at if they did. The only time I saw anything I could recognize as a “baby” was on a woman who was 5 months pregnant, which was too far along for an abortion to be performed at our clinic or any clinic in the state.

    The underlying assumption is always that women are too fucking stupid to understand what being pregnant means and must be protected from themselves and from evil doctors who apparently roam the streets in search of women to perform abortions on.

  2. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Thank you for this information. Now I know who to mail my uterus to in the event I opt for that hysterectomy.

  3. mj

    another thing–ultrasounds have not yet been proven safe–especially in the early stages of pregnancy. “nothing’s happened yet…” is the medical world’s guarantee of safety. so they want to force a procedure on a woman that could–in theory–damage the child? interesting.

  4. freethinker

    in conservative societies like pakistan where there is no place for ‘illegitimate’ children and ‘illicit’ sexual relations are meant to kept hidden, this social anti-abortion mandate is absent. you can get abortions easily because pregnancy is not a medicalized institution. only the family (minus the children) and closest friends know about pregnancy and it doesn’t get out into the wider social circle. there are no regular scans and no ultrasound baby-mother bonding. there is no talk of the woman being ‘with child’, because the child is what happens after your pregnancy gets the social recognition. and this shows how ‘baby’ is a socially constructed concept, which is variable across societies.

    the clever deviousness of this bill becomes clear when you think about how women who go for abortions are more inclined to use expressions like ‘pregnancy tissue’ or ‘contents of the uterus’. this framing helps them make through abortion without guilt and grief.

  5. Jonathan

    “and be punished for the sin of fornication by incubating to term, followed by a lifetime of child-rearing drudgery.”

    One of the other common rhetorical tactics of the anti-abortionist godbags (right after the “medical information” racket) is giving the kid up for adoption after birth. But why do the godbags support adoption at all? Wouldn’t that give women an out for the latter half of the godbag’s punishment? They won’t adopt the kid themselves when the woman is from certain minority groups, so it’s not to get extra Jesus soldiers. Do they expect Maury Povich to corner the woman in ten years to reunite her with a resentful biological child? What’s their scheme?

  6. Esme

    It’s not just the shaming that drives this kind of legislation. It’s also an attempt to make the abortions that much harder to get, since usually the cost of the ultrasound is put upon the woman seeking the abortion. In addition, it adds more time, more procedures, and increases the amount of time that a woman who works must take off from work, and/or a woman who has had to travel a significant distance to a clinic that performs abortions must stay in a hotel, further increasing the cost.

    Because lord knows, if you force a woman to travel because you’ve closed every abortion clinic in her town, and she loses pay taking multiple days off, only to be unable to afford the procedure because they’re too busy dicking around telling her all about her AWWWLOOKITTHECUTESEAMONKEY, that parasite in her womb is just going to be the pride and joy of her life when she gives birth. She certainly is going to be financially and emotionally equipped to care for it. And she’s not going to resent it AT ALL.

  7. Kathleen

    Honestly, state colonization of the uterus would be a step up from this — a heartless, cynical move by a beanhead dude to play up “hooray for shaming/interfering in the medical procedures of/arguing for the stupidity of ladies!who!are!bad!” sentiments in the populace in order to shore up his political power. This is just bottom-feeding opportunism and playing to the basest impulses of the teensy-heartedest, soulless-est denizens of the republic.

  8. tinfoil hattie

    Women should not be forced to watch an ultrasound of their developing fetus, AND I saw ultrasounds of both of mine, AND I found them fascinating — and yes, I even choked up. So sue me.

    Arguing that “you can’t tell what’s in the ultrasound anyway!” misses the point. If you could see a full-grown fetus playing peekaboo and smiling and waving at Mommy, no woman should be forced to undergo any medical procedure against her wishes.

  9. terristrange

    When I had my big scarlet A. The doctor did an ultrasound on me to see the little thing had implanted itself along my womb (either that or she just wanted to violate me by sticking a big wand covered in lube up my vaginal canal, I don’t trust doctors). I opted to look at the screen because I found it interesting. It came as part of the abortion special package. She did tell me that I didn’t have to look though. I wonder if they would take the ultrasound charge off of the abortion fee and have it paid by state taxes. In fact, why not just go a step further and make all abortion services free?
    Well I think I know why.

  10. Anna Belle

    Thank you for this information. Now I know who to mail my uterus to in the event I opt for that hysterectomy.

    You jest, but imagine if women did this instead of planting it under a tree. What if anti-abortion politicians and other high profilers (I’m looking at you, Ralph Reed) had a bunch of uteruses mailed to them for the few years? A campaign like that would certainly be newsworthy, and maybe even effective. It’s not like they could protest it, considering how they use fetuses. Just thinking out loud here…

  11. Notorious Ph.D.

    Oh thank the gods — I thought I was the only one who couldn’t recognize a damn thing in these sonic blobs. Well, me and the TV fathers who TV mothers laughed at because, of course, they could see the “baby” quite clearly. The problem is, not only are the parents supposed to turn to mush over them; so are their parents’ friends. Why else would people post ultrasound images on their blogs?

    –NPhD (formerly posting as cafesiren)

  12. iena

    I’m from Lincoln, NE and this letter was published in the newspaper a few days ago in response to Sen. Fulton:

    In response to the ultrasound-abortion requirements introduced by Sen. Tony Fulton, one of which would require that the ultrasound screen be positioned so that the woman could see it, I would like to offer my full support.
    As a 19-year-old female University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, working toward my MRS. degree, I applaud Sen. Fulton’s efforts to protect those tiny cell clusters. But I would like to suggest a few improvements that I think will maximize the bill’s intended effect.
    First off, the bill should require that a woman be strapped down to a chair and her eyelids propped open so that she will definitely see the child in the ultrasound. Following the ultrasound, the women should be shown bloody, preferably deformed, pictures of dead fetuses as she is administered drugs with unpleasant side effects such as vomiting or migraines. That way, even if she still wants to get the abortion that she so callously, frivolously decided she wanted, she won’t be able to think about an abortion without getting violently ill.
    For proper procedure techniques, I suggest consulting the novel “A Clockwork Orange.”
    Thank you to Sen. Fulton again for reminding me how incompetent my entire gender really is.

    Alexa Warren, Lincoln

    Warmed the cockles of my little black heart, it did.

  13. Liz

    I’m sorry but this isn’t really related the post but to terristrange’s comment. Terristrange, something was wrong there. I think an ultrasound is usually done by putting the wand on your abdomen outside of it.

  14. angryyoungfemme

    @ iena & the letter she quoted:


    I’m beginning to think I see a backlash among much younger women against our pornulated, anti-woman, trending to stereotypical-1950’s-throwbacks culture: radical feminism. They, meaning the denizens of patriarchy, are no longer bothering to hide their misogyny in subtly; it seems that the more progressive society gets, i.e., equal, the more desperate the standing structure becomes. The result, at least from my standpoint as having lived as the “other” for twenty-four years, is that you can’t deny it any longer. It’s so in-your-face. As fucked up as it is to have live in it, it gives me hope that more will see and take action.

    I needs me some revolution up in here!

  15. angryyoungfemme

    sorry, that should be: @ iena & Alexa Warren

  16. lawbitch

    Liz, for an early ultra sound the technician has to use a wand vaginally because the embryo is so small. The embryo can’t be imaged with the roller on the abdomen. Later, when the fetus is larger, the technician can use the roller on the abdomen.

  17. Kathleen

    that letter from Alexa Warren kicks behind. Thanks for sharing it, iena!

  18. Lovepug

    I don’t think it can be stated emphatically enough, that if this is a very early trimester ultrasound, you would need to do the wand method of ultrasound in order to see much of anything.

    I can tell you from first hand experience that the damned vaginal wand, even when held by a female radiology technician, is EXTREMELY traumatic for me for reasons I’d rather not go into. I refuse to do them anymore. Of course asshole godbag has not taken into account how this technique might further traumatize rape survivors.

    And yes, the early ultrasound I had when I was pregnant looked like a big ol’ nothing to me and didn’t stir up any emotion at all. It was the later ultrasound I had where we could actually identify parts that had any charge at all for me.

    But! it was easy to have an emotional charge because she was a PLANNED and WANTED baby.

    Fortunately, I think the fiscal impact of this dude’s plan in our fucked up economy might just make it go down in flames.

  19. mir

    Oh sure, the P wants you to look before you abort but just try to have a look-see after and it’s no way, nuh-uh little lady. I asked to see the tidbit as it was removed during my last abortion and was denied, with the doctor and attendant nurse catching eyes over their masks. Were they aghast? Was it a common request and standard refusal? Don’t know.

    I just wanted to have a look at it. I was curious, it was my property as it were, I just wanted to see it for a moment. Maybe they thought I’d burst into tears and try to swaddle it.

  20. VibratingLiz

    Hell. When I had a tumor the size of a grapefruit growing between my lungs, I was desperate for “information about the reality inside” and could have really used that information to make informed decisions. But never once did anybody offer to let me look at an ultrasound, or a CT scan, or even a chest x-ray. It wasn’t considered my business to be looking at that stuff, when no fetal matter was involved.

  21. Melissa

    Forcing a woman against her will to have an ultrasound via vaginal wand is institutionalized rape, pure and simple. I am disgusted.

  22. Lexie

    Yeah, I call the wand (vaginal transducer is it’s official name) the dildo cam. It is not comfortable. I had a twin pregnancy so had many, many of them. I finally sorta got desensitized to it, but the first couple of times I couldn’t do it without downing a coupla klonopins.

    It is an invasive procedure, and unless they do legislate a clockwork orange style eye propping mentioned above, it is not something the patient would even have to look at. It gives no medical information (most especially when someone is about to abort) so how can this even be medically ethical? What about “first do no harm”? Those dildocams come with the side effect of infection. I can’t see how any medical professional would be able to ethically perform an unnecessary invasive procedure when the patient doesn’t consent. (oh, yeah, I know. The patients are women. They don’t have the right to consent…about anything.)

    Also, an aside: about this whole bonding around the ultrasound thingy…I sorta resent that. I am visually impaired. I couldn’t see the screen anyway. So everyone was all…its so SAD you can’t SEE them! Aaawww! You’re missing this Great Moment in Mother Child Bonding! Er, yeah. You people realize, don’t you…that I’m the one walking around with TWO HUMANS in my body, right? And I am acutely aware of this every time they kick me in the ribs 20 times a day or grind their skulls on my pelvic bones. I kinda get that there are babeez in there, maybe a little bit more than you do with your fuzzacam!

    At first I thought all the bruhaha was a blindness prejudice. Which, true. But I think it is more like that I as a woman am too stoopid to be able to bond with the living things in my 3483 pound torso unless a medical professional tells me what’s in there.

  23. thebewilderness

    I think Esme has the right of it.
    It looks like just another impediment, added to a long list of impediments, designed to prevent poor women from ending an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy. With the added benefit of publicizing the self righteous posturing of an ambitious politician.

  24. Cat Ion

    Wow. I was unaware that a vaginal “wand” was used for ultrasounds in the early stages of pregnancy. Most women have abortions during the first trimester anyway, so this legislation basically legalizes the rape of these women. Really. A woman has to endure something being stuck inside of her as part of a medical procedure that she otherwise would not consent to in order to obtain abortion services? That is so fucked up. Well, no wonder the “pro-lifers” love it.

  25. BadKitty

    I was under the impression that ultrasounds were standard pre-abortion procedure. Every clinic I know about did that – and I went to national conferences for abortion providers – because it was the only accurate way to determine the age of the fetus. The doc needs that info to A) determine the woman actually is pregnant and where the pregnancy is in the uterus, B) determine the size of instruments to use, C) determine how far to dialate the cervix, and D) to ensure they weren’t performing an abortion on a fetus that was than 15 wks old.

    So is this law just mandating the women sign a paper stating she was offered the chance to look and refuse?

    mir – At my former clinic, it was part of our standard care to ask the woman if she wanted to view the tissue after the abortion. We thoroughly prepped them for what they might see, depending on the length of the pregnancy. I think about 20% of our patients wanted to see it. Most were curious, like you, but many wanted to know exactly what they had aborted so they wouldn’t be haunted by the pro-lifers’ lies. Some wanted to pray over it to make sure “the soul” went to heaven, some of our Native patients wanted to sprinkle tobacco over it. We were cool with whatever the patient wanted except we couldn’t let them take it to bury it as some requested. State laws prevent that.

  26. wisewebwoman

    Look, by far the easiest method for uterus monitoring everywhere would be to surgically insert a permanent viewing window over the uterine area. Clothes could come up with appropriate cutouts for all women of breeding age.
    This would result in abolishing ultrasounds completely and thus ease and safeguard the Godly, righteous and proprietary intents of Mr. Fultons everywhere.

  27. speedbudget

    I’ve never understood this obsession with ultrasounds during pregnancy. And I’ve certainly never understood the obsession with sending those pictures out to everyone. Hey, guys! I bought this crappy camera that can’t focus and only takes pictures in black and white and they develop correctly if they look like a xerox with serious toner issues! Come look at my pictures of my vacation!

    And freethinker, you can take your guilt and shove it. I and every woman alive knows exactly what’s going on in an abortion procedure. There is no “reframing.” The truth is, it’s a blastocyst or zygote or fetus. It’s our godbag culture that has reframed this scientific reality into a cute widdle snowflake baybeeeeeeee that we are supposed to swoon over.

  28. denelian

    never understoof this one – until the thing is like 5 months, whatever shows up, IF the patient can even see iy, DOESN’T LOOK LIKE A BABY.

    so. weird. it looks like nothing human at 8-9-10 weeks…

  29. JRoth

    OK, I’m extremely abortion-friendly – I wish there were no stigma at all, and that they were publicly-funded, etc. – but all of this “blob” talk was really confusing me. So I just went and looked at the little picture they took at 10 weeks. And sure enough, there’s a little baby. No squinting, no need from explanation from the technician – it’s like a little cartoon fetus, lying on its back with oversize head and curled up legs and even a visible arm. And sure, it was emotional to see – especially after the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat.

    It’s neither here nor there, but saying patently untrue things like, “it looks like nothing human at 8-9-10 weeks” doesn’t help your argument.

  30. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    “Thank you for this information. Now I know who to mail my uterus to in the event I opt for that hysterectomy.”

    Now I wish to God I’d thought of that! But it’s too late now. Mine’s already gone up in smoke in — are you ready for this? — Fulton County, GA.

    Can you imagine a law making the Daddies of these fetuses look at ultrasounds?

  31. Lexie

    I was under the impression that ultrasounds were standard pre-abortion procedure. Every clinic I know about did that – and I went to national conferences for abortion providers – because it was the only accurate way to determine the age of the fetus

    You know, though? This kind of stuff really chaps my hide. Doctors pull this shit all the time where they don’t actually believe that a woman can accurately and truthfully tell you the gestational age of the fetus. I know that sometimes women can’t, like if they have very irregular periods. But in general, if women can tell you the date of their last menstrual period, you can get an estimate within days of fetal age.

    It’s like, you know how when you go to the doctor for and Xray or just anything and they ask you if you could be pregnant? And then you say no, and they either are like “are you sure?” or they give you a pee test anyway? I find that women doctors are more likely to take your word for it and men doctors never want to believe you.

    (Which reminds me, I had an eye issue around the time of my pregnancy and had to go to the opthalmalogist many times. The opth kept asking me if I was breastfeeding. No. My kids were preemies and had eating issues. By the time they got straightened out…that ship had sailed. Anyway, he asked me over and over again for like 8 months. I was like, dude? Are you just asking me this because you have some kind of breastfeeding fetish or what? Like lay off my boobs and get busy on my eyeballs.)

  32. Nolabelfits

    Well, I have to say that its probably going to have the intended result. In my case, I was 10 weeks pregnant but couldn’t remember the date of my last period, so they did an ultrasound. At 10 weeks I could see what appeared to be a fully formed fetus swimming around. It was super active and It looked so damn HAPPY I decided not to have an abortion. Please don’t interpret this post as saying I am in favor of this shit, I’m most definately NOT. But thats what tipped the scales for me, and I was undecided before I had the ultrasound.

  33. BadKitty

    “This kind of stuff really chaps my hide. Doctors pull this shit all the time where they don’t actually believe that a woman can accurately and truthfully tell you the gestational age of the fetus.”

    Women can be off by weeks on the age of the fetus, especially if their menstrual cycles are irregular. Plus some women will lie to try to trick the doctor into aborting a fetus that is older than what is allowed by law, or what the clinic is equipped to handle. If you’re the doctor, you’re going to make damn sure you don’t break any laws or endanger the woman’s life.

    There are also numerous medical reasons to U/S a pregnancy before an abortion. We saw a number of women with bicornuate (split) uteri, one with 2 cervaces and 2 uteri, and a few ectopic pregnancies. During an abortion, the doctor is working blind. They need as much info as possible before they start blindly poking around inside a woman. A perforated uterus is something every woman can live without.

  34. virago

    “Wow. I was unaware that a vaginal “wand” was used for ultrasounds in the early stages of pregnancy.”

    They use vaginal wands on you when your not pregnant. The wanted to check if I had a cyst on my ovary, and I had to get an U/S. I wasn’t thrilled to find out that it had to be done vaginally, and it hurt like hell. The stupid technician was telling me it wasn’t suppose to hurt so it must be because something was wrong with me. Ha! The only time I felt any pain was when she moved that stupid wand around, and of course, I didn’t have a cyst on either of my ovaries. I was pretty pissed off. I would not be pleased to have one of those forced up my vagina just to get an abortion.

  35. yttik

    I think we should require forced colonoscopies for politicians. The public has the right to know that they aren’t introducing bills while their heads are stuck up their behinds.

  36. Larissa

    I had only 1 medically necessary u/s very early in my 2nd preg. I was often scolded and derided for not having the “fun” u/s with either of my pgs. I never felt like I needed any of the very limited information that they offerred but it was clear that many people disapproved of my position.

    I agree with the many who think this adds a ridiculous barrier to women seeking abortion. The more steps you put between peeing on a stick and getting an abortion, the worse women off are.

  37. another voice

    “there are also numerous medical reasons to U/S a pregnancy before an abortion” if the patient agrees to it. There, fixed that for you. Medical workers often forget that there are reasons *not* to use every new piece of technology on human bodies, such as the human in question doesn’t want it.

  38. Veganrampage

    Senator Smeghead can have his way but only if the fathers are forced to undergo a dildo cam up their anuses while looking at the fuzzy pics. We’ll see how fast the bill passes then.

  39. VinoVeritas

    Ugh. When I had my abortion they did the “wand check” on me and determined that I should have to undergo the surgical procedure instead of the medical one. IBTP that I had surgery with no anesthesia of any kind. But hey, I got to sip some apple juice in a room with ten or so other ladies afterward. Oh, and I got cookies!

  40. Kristin

    “It’s neither here nor there, but saying patently untrue things like, “it looks like nothing human at 8-9-10 weeks” doesn’t help your argument.”

    Thank you. I was trying to think of the best way to bring it up. I think the ultrasound I had at 13 weeks was the one where I watched my son somersaulting. He looked like a skinny baby.

    I’ve heard from women who had miscarriages or abortions and were told that the fetus would be “a clump of cells” then felt shocked and/or betrayed to see a fetus with totally distinguishable baby-like features. This is strong ammo for the anti-choice side when they want to say that pro-choicers lie to women to trick them into abortions, there is a coercive “abortion industry” etc, etc.

    So, I think the question here shouldn’t be “does a fetus look like a baby” but “does something LOOKING like a baybeeeeee make it actually a baybeeeeeee with rights greater than the actual human in whom it is growing”.

    Nolabelfits, I think the crucial distinction in your story is that you were *undecided*. I totally support giving patients who are undecided about any procedure any information they request to help them make their decision. It’s totally different, though, from second guessing an already-made decision

  41. Nolabelfits

    I did not have the ultrasound because I was undecided. I had it because in order to do an abortion they need to have an accurate age of the fetus in order to comply with the laws. I had no clue whatsoever when my last period was, because I don’t keep track, so I guess in my case even if I was decided on abortion they would have insisted on doing one. They were, in fact, assuming I was going to have an abortion, and were surprised when said I was going to have it. I do agree with you that the mother’s rights are the issue not whether the fetus looks like a baby, and I do not support forcing anyone into any medical procedure they do not desire. The whole idea of the wand up the vagina is totally abhorrent.

  42. terristrange

    “The problem is, not only are the parents supposed to turn to mush over them; so are their parents’ friends. Why else would people post ultrasound images on their blogs?”
    Ugh, my coworker just gave birth to a girl (the second choice of course) and throughout her pregnancy she carried pictures of the fetus around in her apron to pull out and show to customers and whoever came into the store basically.
    When she was voted employee of the month for the bulletin board, when asked for a picture of herself she put the U/S pics up. Everyone kept asking me who this “jane doe” was. People don’t recognize uteri as easily as they do faces these days.

    I think its already been touched on in the comment section but I was opting for a medical abortion so i could stay at home with my boyfriend and have a more personal private experience. I was unsure about when my last period was, and they can’t perform medical abortions past 8 weeks without seriously endangering the life of the host so an ultrasound (regardless of how disgustingly invasive it was) was necessary.

  43. Metal Guru

    JRoth – I know next to nothing about pregnancy, so your post intrigued me. With the help of Google, I found this collection of First Trimester Ultrasound photos: http://pregnancy.about.com/od/fetus/ig/First-Trimester-US-Gallery/index.01.htm

    I haven’t looked at all of them, but tons of them just look like blobs at the ten weeks stage. I’ve also seen a few that look exactly like you described. I suppose it just varies. Plus, just look at the images of the fetuses at the eight and nine week stage. They’re way blobbier than the ten week ones.

    Anyway, I’ve never thought of the whole ultrasound thing like this before. Thanks, Twisty (and Germaine)!

  44. liberality

    Well I happen to like my lady bits and intend to defend my body from the experimental, but surgery and prescription proscribing, medical community. If they want to cut your uterus out I’d say beware.

  45. Nolabelfits

    U/s photos don’t really do justice to what you see during the procedure. There’s no movement in the photos like you get during the U/S, where you see the fetus from different angles ‘cuz they are swimming around.
    Regardless, forcing it on someone is not right. Its abuse, but nothing surprises me these days. The erosion of women’s rights marches on with all this new legislation, some of it they sneak in under the radar and you never see it coming. The scary part about all this is that reproductive rights and services are the first things to go, then watch out. Next will come control of what women do while pregnant. Anything deemed potentially harmful to the fetus will be against the law. Then they’ll ban us from workplaces deemed potentially harmful to potentially pregnant women who may not even plan to have kids. The clock can be turned back.

  46. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My niece refers to the wand used during a transvaginal ultrasound as the “elephant dildo”. I think the senator from Nebraska needs to develop a more, hmm, intimate relationship with this instrument before imposing his policies on women seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

    Anyone who wants to stick anything up any of my orifices without my express consent is going to have a fight on their hands.

    And in a flash of blindingly clear hindsight, I don’t believe having to view the ultrasound would’ve changed my mind about my unwanted pregnancy. The thing I remember most about it was the deepest feeling of relief I’ve ever known at having got rid of it.

  47. Nolabelfits

    Do you think this ruling will cause women in Nebraska to choose alternative, unsafe methods of abortion?

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  49. calixti

    “Do you think this ruling will cause women in Nebraska to choose alternative, unsafe methods of abortion?”

    Possibly, especially out in western Nebraska where the closest clinic is either across state lines or the other side of the state in Bellevue. I despise my state sometimes.

  50. BadKitty

    “there are also numerous medical reasons to U/S a pregnancy before an abortion” if the patient agrees to it. There, fixed that for you. Medical workers often forget that there are reasons *not* to use every new piece of technology on human bodies, such as the human in question doesn’t want it.”

    Refusing an ultrasound before an abortion makes about as much sense as refusing an xray before cancer surgery. “Oh, we don’t know need to know where the tumor is or how big it is. We’ll just dig around until we find it and hope we get it all”.

    Just because you don’t like a procedure and find it invasive and uncomfortable does not mean that it’s not in your own best interest. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the 5 injections of radioactive dye they shot into my nipple before surgery to remove a breast tumor. I found that more than a little invasive and uncomfortable but it was the best way for the surgeons to see what they were dealing with so I shut up and dealt with it. I figured it was far less painful than dying of breast cancer, much like a vaginal U/S is far less painful than retained pregnancy tissue in the uterus which will send you to the ER with severe cramping and uncontrolled bleeding.

    It’s an unfortunate fact of life that starting a pregnancy usually feels good but there’s no way of ending it – delivery, miscarriage or abortion – that is nearly as much fun and it has to come out the same way it went in. Unless you want to start talking about C-sections. Now there’s an invasive and frequently unnecessary procedure.

  51. thebewilderness

    I suspect that is the purpose of the legislation. To pressure women to either carry out the pregnancy or suffer and possibly die trying to end it.
    I think many people see this as an obvious choice in favor of motherhood. That ignorance is going to hurt a lot of people.

  52. kyle

    You know, I’m totally fine with this as long as the bill also requires manufacturers to display a photo of sweathshop workers alongside clothing, pictures of men holding guns to the heads of slaves in the congo as they dig for colton alongside cell phone ads, then images of children in Ghana who suffer from cancers and unexplainable rashes from breaking down the metals from our e-waste alongside sales of laptops. While we’re at it, lets put pictures of factory farms on packages of chicken and eggs. Lets show pictures of mutilated cows in fast food restaurants.

    I’m all for showing people the reality of their actions, but requiring women to look at the fetus in their belly is really stupid. It is growing inside them, women know it is there. While the things we should feel guilty about remain hidden.

  53. TwissB

    This is all very interesting but I can’t help thinking that the very real institutional and personal details are completely beside the point of what these acceptably deranged politicians are up to on behalf of their fellow men.

    Not only are women the only class that consists entirely of not-men which makes them the perfect subject for sex discrimination that pays off in privilege for all men without the slightest risk that any man will be hurt in the process. But women differ from men in only one disctinctive way – different sex organs. Which makes women’s sex organs the perfect target for attack by every possible means – e.g. pornography, prostitution, and pregnancy-related misogynist attacks. Of the latter, forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term (and feel responsible forever for the baby when it becomes real) is the meanest. Once born, of course, the adored fetus becomes for men a sort of abstraction – at best a device for ousting women from the paid workforce and tying them by a leg to the kitchen table and at worst, a damn nuisance for policymakers always whining for child care, health-care services, playgrounds, education, and even whining for some kind of attention from fathers besides holding still for their sexual “play”.

    This is pure sex discrimination, but men’s denial of women’s right to equal protection of the law and thus their right to bodily integrity, makes sex discrimination constitutionally permissible even in the face of laws against specific kinds of sex discrimination. So men can impose on women every kind of crazy misogynist restriction that their pornographic minds can devise. Even if the laws don’t pass, much energy and money is spent pointlessly opposing them on any basis but attacking them as constitutionally permitted women-hating.

    If it’s tempting to think this overstates or misidentifies the basic issue, just note the madness exemplified by the woman who recently delivered fatherless octuplets to add to her six children at home being cared for by her mother. The whole pathetic cicus was directly facilitated by the medical profession without regard to circumstance or expense on the lame basis that the mother wanted more and more artificial insemination no matter how many babies she already had.- the same profession that goes meekly along with whatever barriers are devised to deny a woman’s decision to halt a pregnancy – or even prevent one!

    Fighting on the gounds selected by the opponent is not good strategy. It wastes our time and energy – and the pig enjoys it.

  54. jolie

    OK, so who pays?

    do the ultrasounds come free? does the state of nebraska pay for ’em? or do the unfortunate women subjected to them have to pay?

  55. slythwolf

    So, wait–if the argument some are making is that you “need” an ultrasound before abortion in order to make sure the silly wimmins are really pregnant and not just fooling themselves* (which you would think the regulation medical pregnancy test would have covered), and to “find”** the fetal tissue for removal, how the hell did people determine women were pregnant and perform abortions before the use of ultrasound technology in obstetrics and gynecology?

    And if the argument is that it’s already standard practice to do an ultrasound before an abortion, how come we ain’t hearing that in the media and what the hell would be the point of legislating it in the first place? (New law: Everybody has to turn hir car on before driving!)

    * I am vaguely aware that this can, in fact, happen. When I was in, like, middle school, my mother told me about a woman at her work who had become pregnant, then spontaneously aborted or something, but all there was was a placenta. Apparently in some rare cases if society pressures a woman hard enough and/or she really, really wants to be pregnant, her body will pretend that she is. I would imagine this hardly ever happens or we would be hearing about it as a crisis on the news; it’s got all the stuff the mainstream media loves–silly wimmins and their silly psychology, baybeez, wimmins who really really want baybeez, weird medical stuff, etc.

    ** The uterus is not actually a particularly large place, as I understand it, and there’s not a bunch of empty space in it for fetal tissue to be bouncing around. My understanding is that they just suck everything out of there anyway, and if I were going in for an abortion and the ultrasound showed that there was nothing in there I would still want them to do it just in case they missed something.

  56. Jezebella

    Okay, here’s the deal, sly: they have to DO an ultrasound before the procedure in order to know how far the pregnancy is along, but they don’t have to SHOW YOU the ultrasound image. It’s not to see if you’re really pregnant, but to see how large the embryo or fetus. This is of medical import, as noted above.

    Mr. Nebraska wants women to SEE the ultrasound image, because he thinks it will make women change their minds when they see their “baby”. Right now, looking at the image is optional. THAT is the difference.

  57. another voice

    Yes indeed slythewolf what did they do before the dildo cam? I suppose they may have used urine tests to determine the level of hormones (anyone else remember that process) and thus, how far along one’s pregnancy was. Of course, that clearly wasn’t invasive enough. Those medical professionals and their arguments about “needed” tests. It just gets sillier over time.

    If you choose the newest technology, fine. Otherwise, my point stands, patients request or reluctantly agree to these tests, they should not be forced into them, much less forced into staring at fuzzy images of clumps of cells *or* swimming fetuses.

  58. Jezebella

    You know, abortion has gotten much, much safer over the decades. I think knowing what you’re going in after via ultrasound probably makes the procedure faster, more accurate, which I’m going to say, leads to safer and better outcomes. Plus, if a doctor is going to jail for aborting a pregnancy one week past a given limit, she’s going to have to have evidence that the pregnancy was within the limits. I just don’t think we should be blaming abortion doctors for the use of the dildocam, but instead should focus on the assholes who think abortion doctors are better off dead, and wimmin are better off barefoot and pregnant.

  59. denelian


    just a few weeks ago, i took a pregnant friend in for her U/S. she was somewhere around 9 weeks pregnant. i LOOKED at the U/S AS THEY WERE DOING IT.

    it did NOT look like a human baby. maybe some do. but i have never seen a 9ish week fetus (one between 8 and 10 weeks) that looked like a HUMAN BABY. and telling me that i am lying? that is beyond rude. i know what i saw, each time i saw it. i personally believe that the “pictures” distributed by pro-birth groups are enhanced to look more like actual babies, and those are probably the type you saw.

  60. Spiders

    I’ve had several abortions and not once did I have an ultrasound, although I did have to have a blood test to confirm that yes I was indeed pregnant and also to determine my blood type (even though I already knew it and had a blood donor card on me stating it).

    I did however have transvaginal ultrasounds for both of my ectopic pregnancies and neither of them were helpful in determining the nature of the pregnancy as there was already internal bleeding occuring so the technician couldn’t see a damned thing anyway.

    It seems like an unnecessary extension of an often traumatic procedure, and I don’t much buy the arguments about medical safety either, because in my case the doctors needed to go inside to really see what was going on. Maybe if it involved actual surgery, as in cutting you open, I could see the validity of that argument.

    This is clearly just a case of the state adopting the manipulative strategies that anti-abortion activists have been using for years.

  61. jael

    professional indemnity liability.

    if there were a chance something could go wrong
    that someone could suffer permanent injury
    and an ultrasound could reduce the chance of it –
    that’d be reason enough to say I’m not going to this, i could hurt you badly without it and i’m not going to run that risk.
    these stories about women dying as a result of their abortions aren’t just fairy tales to scare wanton women.

    and a potential $ exposure for who knows how much money
    and if you hadn’t done the scan you weren’t covered
    or you’d lose your insurance and could never practice again..
    you really think you wouldn’t insist that women have the ultrasound?

    the system might be flawed (indeed, the system IS flawed)
    if you are an actor in the system
    you’re restrained by its rules, whatever they are.

  62. speedbudget

    Do you really have to look? Or not and say you did? What if they hand you the fuzzy picture and you shut your eyes? What if you look at it and go, “Meh”? How do they police whether or not a woman actually looked? Or do they hold you down and pry your eyelids open?

  63. Amananta

    I had an ultrasound before my one abortion because of some unusual pain I was having and they feared an ectopic pregnancy. I stared at the screen. There was a little whitish blob surrounded by some darkish greyish stuff. One of the technicians said, “Look, there’s one of it’s flippers!” I was unimpressed.

  64. Amananta

    Sorry to double post but – no it is NOT standard procedure to ultrasound before an abortion. I have never even heard of a woman having one before an abortion without some other medical issue going on (like I had). As to fetal age, a manual exam by the doctor is generally sufficient to determine a rough age of gestation.
    If some doctors are performing ultrasounds regularly to protect themselves from prosecution by rabid anti-choicers waiting for them to slip to the wrong side of the line on age, those are performed for political, not medical reasons.

  65. lauredhel

    Amananta, that depends on what you mean by “before” the abortion, where you are, what the clinics are like, etc.

    I’ve not heard of a woman here not having a scan at the time of abortion, and I’ve referred for plenty. It doesn’t have to be done at a separate appointment, however, or shown to the woman, or even done while she’s awake, or anything like that. US is partly to be sure of gestational age (for medical safety reasons, not legal ones – whether medical abortion is appropriate, what size vacuum cannula to use (keeping to the minimum require size means less cervical dilatation is needed), whether there needs to be prep time with laminaria insertion before a later abortion). But also to reduce the likelihood of sending a woman blithely home with an untreated ectopic pregnancy, to rule out hydatidiform mole, to (as mentioned above) delineate any major uterine anomalies before the surgeon perforates the uterus, and so on. Ultrasound is also used during the procedure to confirm that the products of conception have been evacuated. This is all part of the procedure, and designed to make it even safer, not to put women off.

    As you can see from this page, ultrasound at the abortion appointment is routine at Marie Stopes Autralia (and it has been for quite some time). Here’s another example. It’s part of the procedure, and is not billed separately.

    I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if some clinics in the USA are not adhering to the gold standard of care in this regard. My understanding is that some aspects of choice-related medicine have been years behind Australia for quite some time. I gather that some women aren’t even offered anaesthetic for abortion. I also understand there are still prenatal units in the States umming and aahing about whether women should be offered the fetal screening (first trimester screening) that has been the standard of care elsewhere for years, preferring instead to offer much later and less accurate screening which can lead to it being too late to choose abortion even if the mother wishes it after the results are finally in.

  66. Twisty

    Ultrasounds aren’t some kind of infallible miracle Superman X-Ray Glasses or something. I had a boobal ultrasound that missed a tumor the size of a walnut. No shit.

  67. lauredhel

    They’re not magic; they just can add to the information available, when performed properly. They’re very heavily operator-dependent, and equipment-dependent also. I recently had a new breast lump investigated, and the first thing my surgeon looked at was who had done the scan and interpreted the mammogram, because this informed her management to a rather large extent.

  68. KPH

    I absolutely agree that this in particular is an ugly way to try to make a woman feel shameful for getting an abortion. However, I am fully in support of psychiatrists and such being on hand in abortion clinics for women who are raped, are dealing with a bad breakup and the mental disturbances of carrying the child of a man that she is now disgusted by, for the rare situation where some women do become addicted to having abortions, etc. I am also supportive of having social workers on hand in abortion clinics for women who are dealing with men who think they have rights to the embryo (hello, you want to control your reproductive system fine, but once you shoot out your sperm it is now her property and belongs to her body, you can’t force her into anything) or for those that need financial aid to support a child that they otherwise want, etc.
    Although a woman reserves the right to not answer any questions regarding these services, I think that the employees at abortion clinics should be mandated to ask questions before going through with any procedure. When some egotistical and misogynist polition thinks he has the right to guilt a woman into not having an abortion, it is certainly a serious problem, but I also feel it is the duty of the state to pry for information about someone’s personal life when it is appropriate and neccessary. There are so many women who are not aware of their options, and asking certain questions could raise questions of her own, and could actually help her. But this guilt-trip business is going too far.

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