Jan 19 2010

Pre-abortion ultrasound laws generate amusing Onion vid

New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion

Remember this, from last summer?

Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that mandated a physician to both conduct an ultrasound and describe the images to the patient.

“The ultrasound provision takes away a patient’s choice about whether or not to view an ultrasound, and it requires physicians to provide information to their patients that the physicians do not believe is medically necessary,” Toti said.

“It’s an affront to women’s autonomy and decision-making power, and it’s also an intrusion to the physician-patient relationship.”

And this?

“One [Oklahoma] law would require women to fill out a lengthy survey that asks, among other things, about their race, education and reason for seeking an abortion. It asks women whether they’re having relationship problems, whether they can’t afford to raise a child or whether having a baby would dramatically change their lives.

Another section requires doctors to provide detailed information about complications that arise as a result of the procedure.”

The mind reels.

[Thanks, Wiggles]


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  1. Other Liz

    It’s all “baby”, “child”, “fetus” etc.

    What about “I don’t want to live in a one bedroom flat with a teenager 14 years from now”, or “I couldn’t stand being related to a godly football player”.

    Fetus fanciers are a bit warped. They are focused on their fetish, and when it gets too old (say, walking age) it drifts outside their field of vision.

  2. Pandechion

    “…whether having a baby would dramatically change their lives.” As a forty-one-year-old mother of a ten-month-old, I beg your forgiveness while I wipe away these tears of hysterical laughter.

  3. ElizaN

    In the interests of providing women with facts to help their decision-making, as doctors are required to provide detailed information about the consequences of getting an abortion, how about adding in the consequences of not getting one? Pregnancy and childbirth aren’t the easiest things on the body.

  4. Erin

    That’s what I was thinking ElizaN. There is a higher likelihood of ‘complications arising’ as a result of birthing a fetus rather than aborting one. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t use an evidence based analysis to inform women about their options.

  5. Pinko Punko

    Yeah, that has been going around, including in the comments at this esteemed web log. Also noted, a Texas preg center that confirms preg tests with a f*cking ultrasound- at what four weeks? *ssholes.

  6. wiggles

    I also like that the majority of panelists are male, though that’s so common in real life repro rights legislation commentary the average Onion reader probably wouldn’t have noticed.

  7. Sarah

    @Other Liz I think we live in a strangely baby/child-centric society in general. Or, at least we womenfolk do. This is reflected in various laws which provide protection for children. Here in Oregon, for example, the Oregon Health Plan is for children and knocked-up ladies only. Once a woman has served her purpose and given birth, she loses her health coverage if she is poor.

  8. Jonathan

    If only the Onion video ads didn’t exist. When I clicked on the video I was forced to sit through a Bud Light commercial where two fugly office working dudes stripped in front of their hawt female coworker while she had to grin and bear it.

    Bud Light: proud sponsor of the backlash against sexual harassment policies!

    I’d love to drown a Bud Light exec in their own product.

  9. speedbudget

    If I have an impacted bowel, do I have to watch a video of it before they remove the turd?

  10. slythwolf

    whether having a baby would dramatically change their lives.

    There’s only one checkbox on that one, right? For “yes”?

  11. slythwolf

    Here in Oregon, for example, the Oregon Health Plan is for children and knocked-up ladies only. Once a woman has served her purpose and given birth, she loses her health coverage if she is poor.

    It works a little differently in Michigan, but the result is basically the same: poor women get a choice between the state health plan that covers birth control and the state health plan that covers everything else.

  12. Felicity

    If a woman doesn’t feel like a cystoplast is her beloved child who needs its nursery (crisis!), that’s because it’s a cystoplast.

  13. agasaya

    If they cared about the baby, they’d also give the Dad medical coverage so the kid could actually have a shot at a ‘family’ unit instead of just temporary harbor in a healthy incubator. Or child care after the birth, so parents could hold a job which often pays less than the child care workers make. But hey, more kids for adoption businesses – well, unless it isn’t a cute and healthy white baby.

  14. eibhear

    Hee-hee, speedbudget! That’ll keep me giggling all day.

  15. TwissB

    I’m an Onion fan, but the bottom line is that any public treatment of abortion as a matter for debate is an exercise in misogynistic invasive power over women that is what the problematizing of abortion is all about.

    This week Washington DC will be treated to the disedifying annual ritual in which anti-abortion fetishists will have their importance magnified by self-styled feminists stoutly marching in defense of that constitutional fraud Roe v. Wade.

    Chanting about non-existent rights while being afraid to challenge anti-abortion laws as the perfect form of sex discrimination for which there is no constitutional remedy keeps a lot of pols, activists, and experts of every stripe in business but does nothing to advance women’s freedom.

    It’s easy for liberal Onion guys to har-har about anti-abortion goons, but turning harassment of pregnant women into a big joke helps legitimize a status quo that works perfectly for them by making women grovel and letting the impregnator class off the hook. Fat chance that men are going to undo Roe v. Wade when legalization with unlimited scope for threatening women works so well for men.

    I guess you could say that I don’t see anything funny about the players on either “side” who are keeping this mean game going at women’s expense.

  16. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    We are only capable of loving children in the US until they’re born. We certainly don’t want to pay for education or health care, and we sure as shit sticks to a blanket don’t want anyone else talking to them about contraception. When was the last time you saw a rabid fetus-rights activist buying a box of diapers or a can of Enfamil for a poor kid? Buying the kid’s mom a sandwich? Or voting for a school levy? We are incredibly double-minded about children.

  17. notalady

    Jill, your chagrin about the second link is puzzling to me. As an abortion clinic worker, I find all the practices mentioned to be reasonable, and in fact crucial to quality of care.

    Ultrasounds aren’t just something that can be used to torment women who may or may not feel conflicted about terminating a pregnancy. We need to know the gestational age in order to do the procedure safely. We also need to know the pregnancy is indeed intrauterine, as occasionally it isn’t.

    And who wouldn’t provide detailed information about potential complications from a medical procedure? This is simply part of informed consent. While elective abortion is about the safest ambulatory surgical procedure, shit still happens.

  18. SargassoSea

    TwissB –


  19. kristyn

    TwissB, that is indeed an amazing analysis. This is all such a grotesque circus of a life, and women are still the side-show attractions.

    Antoinette is also right, of course, and it’s very telling when anti-abortionists are questioned on this very front. Some actually say, ”Poor women aren’t our responsibility! If they can’t take care of a child, they shouldn’t have one!”

    Apologies to Twisty for elliptical overuse, but the proper response to a statement so simultaneously obvious and oblivious can only be communicated on the internet as,

    what the fuck.

  20. Anastasia

    While the ultrasound has a clearly manipulative function, apprising patients of the risks of any medical procedure seems warranted. When a woman shows up at an ob/gyn planning to have the baby, she is given an overview of the potential risks for mother and child, at least by way of explaining the tests that will be performed. Given that an abortion is a medical procedure, I think doctors would be remiss not to make her aware of potential complications.

  21. karen

    While I agree with notalady that some of these actions are helpful for the physicians who will be performing the procedures, I think it’s important to really understand what the politicians’ intentions are.

    “Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that mandated a physician to both conduct an ultrasound and describe the images to the patient.”

    The women do not need to know the exact gory details of the beast unless they ask for it. Maybe lady XYZ would rather not have a gander at the result of a rape. We treat rape victims like trash as it is, let’s just rub it in their faces some more. Or maybe lady ABC doesn’t want to know the fetus she has to give up because she has neither the time, money, or ability to care for it. Maybe she wants a baby eventually but really this was an accident and she just can’t afford to miss work, she’s got that house payment and all of those loans. Forcing her to go through 9 months of carrying it would cause mental harm, and who knows, perhaps physical too.

    They don’t give two fucks in a barrel about the safety of the women, they’re only interested in nationalizing reproduction for their own patriarchal purposes.

  22. godlizard

    It would be one thing if these intrusive new laws masquerading as caring about pregnant women contained provisions for free condoms, birth control pills (including the morning after pill which does NOT stop a beating heart, it just makes an egg not stick to a wall), and mandatory, reality-based sex education in middle school.

    But no. There’s still little or no emphasis on prevention and health education. Not until it’s too late, oh, then they want those preggos to be excruciatingly informed, just not *fully* informed.

    How can so many people have such strong objections to something, yet make no effort to prevent it from happening? I’ll never get that. Never. It’s like saying, “I hate explosions”, then tearing down the no smoking signs by the gas pumps because they might make people want a cigarette. Or something.

  23. Cycles

    “… describe the images [of the ultrasound] to the patient.”

    They are monochromatic, computer generated but not unlike ink-and-wash paintings, and shaped like a big wedge of pie with a black background.

  24. vinoveritas

    @Cycles: Mmmmm, pie. New rule: all women seeking abortions must be shown a slice of pie before the procedure. Then given the pie afterwards. It sure beats the boring graham crackers and juice I was given afterwards. Where am I, kindergarten? No, I just had surgery without the benefit of any form of anesthesia. (Traumatizing, for sure, but also makes me feel kind of badass.)

  25. tinfoil hattie

    Congratulations, pandechion. Big shocker, eh? Hang in there, though. It gets better. I promise. 36 when kid #1 was born; 40 for kid #2.

  26. MNO

    “And who wouldn’t provide detailed information about potential complications from a medical procedure? ”

    That argument only flies when the detailed information is in fact true. In my state, women are told lies about a nonexistent link between abortion and breast cancer. They’re also required to listen to bullshit about how having an abortion could harm their mental health. The legislature decided to eliminate from the “Women’s Right to Know Act” the requirement that those seeking abortions kneel and pray along with a video of Michele Bachmann invoking her god to strike them dead — apparently there was no scientific evidence to support that part.

  27. Amananta

    The invasiveness of it all aside, I think they might be disappointed in the results of this “view your ultrasound pic” as a method to make women cry over their murderous instinct and have a baby instead of the abortion they had planned. I had to see one of those once (long story) and remember the doctor saying something like “see, there’s a flipper!” I saw a greyish blob thing among darker patches of grey, which is all most women would ever see, since there is no obvious “baby-like” shape at the stage of development most women have abortions.

  28. orlando

    Or as Kaz Cooke so memorably put it: “That looks like a space prawn made of snot!”

  29. minervaK

    You are timely, Miz Psmith, for I have just this very day arrived at the conclusion that the authors of our ‘health care’ system are, in fact, morons. Those possessing the intestinal fortitude to discuss same are invited to comment upon my latest blog post…

  30. polly styrene

    Anastasia, I had a friend who worked compiling maternal mortality statistics. And she told me that having a (legal) abortion is always, safer, statistically speaking, than giving birth to a baby. I’m having difficulty verifying that from the internetz, since when I put abortion mortality rates into google, I get a load of stuff saying you’ll have bad dreams. But whatever, maybe someone has the stats to hand.

    When a woman shows up at an ob/gyn planning to have the baby, she is given an overview of the potential risks for mother and child,

    Is this really true? Is she for instance told of the relative risks of having an abortion now, vs going on to give birth? I doubt it, somehow. Is she told, well if you go ahead with the pregancy your statistical likelihood of dying is 1 in however many thousand, whereas if you have an abortion your risk is this?

    Can I also point out, as an aside, that probably the vast majority of women giving birth in the world never see an obstetric gynaecologist.

  31. kristyn

    polly styrene —

    Well, while this blamer cannot vouch for all clinics, the clinic I went to was amazing. Not only are they very gentle and understanding with rape survivors (cough), they counsel women –immediately– that it’s much less risky to undergo an abortion than to carry and deliver a child. The staff does not make women look at or watch the ultrasounds — which, yes, are medically necessary for the professionals, but are utterly unnecessary for the actual patients.

    Like several other blamers have noted, an ultrasound or other such viewing device is necessary for the doctor in many surgeries, but in no other surgery is the patient required to view the procedure. Plus undergo it without anesthetics. Yikes.

  32. notalady

    Amananta, you’re right about it not being much of an influence. Also, I think that legislation like the 2nd example serves more for political fodder than anything else.

    About the only things you can say about an ultrasound are to mention the femur and crown length estimates, and perhaps the gestational age. I guess I can see how the pro-life clinics might use this law as an excuse to justify their truth-flouting tactics though.

  33. tinfoil hattie

    Can I also point out, as an aside, that probably the vast majority of women giving birth in the world never see an obstetric gynaecologist.

    WHAT? How can this be? How do those women give birth without the help of OBs, who are trained as surgeons, and many of whom are all-knowing MEN? My god, woman! This is SHOCKING.

  34. TwissB

    NARAL Virginia has just published a report and video listing lies told to women at anti-abortion clinics. Although I dislike NARAL for its sexist reduction of the so-called abortion issue to a vehicle for electoral jousting, I appreciate the smart way this video is staged to simply present quotes without comment. See it at:

    http://www.naralva.org/—“This is what I learned at a Virginia Crisis Pregnancy Clinic'”

  35. Jezebella

    Why do you say “so-called abortion issue”? How is it NOT an issue in this country?

  36. yttik

    It would be kind of funny to make women watch Rosemary’s Baby or The Omen before having an abortion. Oh crap, the ultra sound has shown you are carrying the Spawn of Satan! Somebody should write a spoof, I’ve heard rumors the antichrist will be arriving any day now.

    The Onion spoof is pretty funny, because most mothers know if they really had to sit in a nursery surrounded by all those diapers, and really confront the task they were taking on, the pain of delivery, the teen age years, the financial burden, humankind would have ceased to exist long ago.

  37. TwissB

    @Jezebella — My reference to “the so-called abortion issue” reflects my view that abortion is simply a necessary aspect of pregnancy, one that women would not bother each other about, had men not found it to be so useful for dumping responsibility on women for unwanted pregnancies while also being able to punish and defame women women as selfish, murderous, unnatural, sinful and monstrous.

    Pregnancy is a condition that men cause but do not experience, so they can carry on about it to their misogynous hearts’ content, threaten women about it, debate it in public forums with pornographic thought balloons of women with legs spread on beds or operating tables floating over their heads, pass cruel laws about it, toss it around as a political football, pontificate about it, murder physicians over it and plead their consciences as a defense,joke about it, and happily divide and conquer women about it without the slightest riak to themselves.

    The wittiest thing about the abortion issue is the way it targets a woman already pregnant, with the impregnator nowhere in the picture.

    The expression “don’t make an issue of it” should apply here. But men do choose to make an issue of it so I dismiss the so-called “abortion issue” as a fake that continues so it must be paying off for men as all sex discrimination does.

  38. TwissB

    Correction: “…without the slightest riak to themselves.”

  39. TwissB

    Try again: “…without the slightest risk to themselves.”

  40. kristyn

    Preach it, TwissB. This blamer shall leave everything in your ever-more-competent hands from now on.

    And yttik — yes. At least, one can only hope, and dream.

  41. Sheanight

    Sanity in a fucked up world orbiting out of control with Big Brother(s) bullshit being the grease that has us plummeting… This is why I come here, thanks for being the one soul in internetdom that isn’t afraid to tell the truth Twisty!

  42. polly styrene

    I see your point Krystyn, mine was that nobody is ever warned that having a baby as opposed to an abortion may cause depression, death etc, despite the fact that right to lifers are always supposedly warning folks of the dire consequences of abortion.

    Maybe somebody who’s had a baby and suffered negative consequences should try suing a right to life organisation for misrepresenting the whole thing….

  43. Sarah

    @polly styrene Not only are ladies not warned about the super-de-duper dire effects of birthin’ babies, they’re also not told about some of the “minor” aftereffects. My mama, for example, has horrible shooting pains in her legs and hips, a result of three pregnancies. These showed up 40 years after her first child, and are a direct result of all those damn pelvis-crackin’ babyheads. The doctors tell her to lie down and take a fistful of ibuprofen to make it better.

    And of course, I’m quite sure nobody warned her about one of the most under-examined results of pregnancy, namely bringing into the world a passel of weird misfit chill’uns.

  44. kristyn

    Oh, poly —

    Forgot to make it clear, but I had the abortion, not the ”baby”. It was never even a question.

    Death and depression can result from either, though, and a good clinic will advise a woman as much. The problem is that there are not very many good clinics.
    Planned Parenthood, for example, is in fact a tool of the patriarchy and quite often staffed by bored people who actually hate women.
    But it’s often a woman’s only choice, because beggars can’t be choosers, and the good ol’ P makes sure women within it can never be more than beggars.

  45. agasaya

    We also have the second highest mortality rate among babies
    and a rising maternal mortality rate, though that is much lower – too bad they don’t speak to the preventable injuries done mothers giving birth.


    It’s about inadequate care more than the biological process for so many but then we have over forty thousand people per year dying for lack of health care.

    Doesn’t have to be that hard for women who want to have children.

  46. Jezebella

    Kristyn, as a long-time client and supporter of Planned Parenthood, I’d like to know where you get your facts. PP workers in the four states I have inhabited have been, to a person, excellent at their jobs and committed to reproductive rights. They are obviously liberal feminists, not radical feminists, but they are fighting the good fight out there and doing a lot of good work.

  47. virago

    I really get sick of the pro-life crap. We use to have several abortion clinics in my state in convenient locations. Now, you have to travel several miles to one of the two cities that still have abortion clinics. Another reason I can’t stand the pro-lifers is their methods. A few years ago, I went to the dentist for a root canal. I was in a lot of pain, and I absolutely dreaded the procedure. Well, it just so happened that this dentist was housed in a building that included several other businesses. One of these businesses was a Planned Parenthood (that didn’t even do abortions).
    Anyway, there was a bunch of pro-lifers standing outside holding their big fetus signs and screaming, “Babykiller!” and “Mruderer!” at any woman who walked into the building. They just assumed that I was going to Planned Parenthood (I used them for birth control in the past). Anyway, I told my dentist, and boy, was he pissed! Those people weren’t out there when I left the dentist. He called the police and had them thrown out of there. Good thing. I was planning on throwing my tooth (taken out during the root canal) at them and scream, “Here’s my fetus!”

  48. Jill

    I’m really sick of pro-life crap because of their weird idea that they’re entitled to stick a video camera up my vadge or whatever because of their stupid fucking religion. I really fucking hate stupid fucking religion more than anything. More and more it just looks like a big honking dish of growth medium for everything that oppresses everybody in every way imaginable. Fucking fucks.

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