Last week, I described how the Texas Republican party proposed legislation that would require a woman who wants to have an abortion to receive a vaginal exam (two actually). Well, the Texas Democrats at least fought back (which is more than the national Dems ever do):
Houston state representative Harold Dutton got the most coverage for repeatedly making the point that “pro-lifers” drop all pretense of caring about life the second it can’t be used to punish sexually active women. In rapid order, he introduced three amendments that were tabled by the majority, who really didn’t want to address the issue of the wellbeing of actual children when potential children matter so much more to them. All three amendments addressed what should happen if a woman looks at a sonogram and decides not to have abortion. The first amendment would have required the state to pay for the child’s college tuition, the second required the state to pay for the child’s health care until age 18, and the third required the state to pay for the child’s health care until age six.
No one was surprised that the anti-choice coalition was able to successfully block these amendments, but Dutton’s point was amply made: anti-choice sentimentality about children is just a ruse to force childbirth to punish sexually active women, and they don’t care one whit about the care and feeding of actual children once they’re born and have served the woman-punishing purpose.
But this was really good:
Marquez chose to use her amendment to highlight the double standard of anti-choicers, who focus most to all of their attention on controlling the reproductive systems of women, and leave men—at least straight men—completely alone.
Her amendment deserves to be quoted directly:
Sec.A171.057.AAMANDATORY VASECTOMY. On an application under Section 171.056, a court shall order a man to undergo a vasectomy if it is shown that:
(1) the man is the father of the pregnant woman’s child outside of marriage; and
(2) previous to the date of application, the man was a father to two or more other children by two or more other women outside of marriage.
In other words, the law would allow women that are forced by the state to undergo paternalistic, condescending, invasive procedures would allow women so violated to deliver a similar violation to the men that impregnated them. Unsurprisingly, anti-choicers did not feel what was good for the goose was good for the gander, and the amendment was tabled.
The more I think about it, the more hideous this is. Imagine if you’re one of those awful people who believes in the 24 fantasy of effective torture. If you had a female prisoner, why wouldn’t you use this device? After all, it doesn’t leave long-term lasting damage–the Rumsfeld criterion. If it did, it wouldn’t be used in medicine. But, as one woman who has undergone the procedure notes, it is not pleasant:
I was being examined because there were indications that I might have cancer.
The technician was thoroughly respectful and did everything to make the process as free as stress and discomfort as possible.
Even under those circumstances it was uncomfortable.
It was, however, not demeaning or threatening because it was my choice. And I was told at every stage of the process that I had the right to cancel it.
I cannot imagine the horror of being forced to go through that procedure without a choice. Imagine, for example, a rape victim being forced to lie on her back and have someone put that probe into her.
This is nightmare fuel.
Though I suppose it’s better than an old fashioned belt buckle whipping.
We have one of the two major parties in complete thrall to fanatics who believe that intimidating women through government-mandaged vaginal penetration, discomfort and pain is an acceptable means of convincing women to not have abortions. How this is markedly different than a torture regime is unclear, except that it only targets women.
Anger is the appropriate emotion.
*It’s not really called that, though it should be.