First a clarification. I am not talking here about whether or not contraception and abortion are good things, about whether or not they should be regulated by law. I have my own opinions about these issues, and I keep them pretty much to myself. The one thing I am very vocal about is that it is not up to me to judge someone else’s actions, much less try to control them.
So. Some states in the US will require a woman who requests an abortion to undergo a compulsory transvaginal ultrasound. What part of that makes sense? Counseling and a cooling-off period are, as far as I know, a regular part of the process. Compelling a woman to undergo an unnecessary, invasive medical procedure would be ridiculous if it weren’t such a brutal disregard of her autonomy.
I’m going to make a leap here, and I don’t think it is an unreasonable one. Have you heard about the “virginity examinations” performed on female detainees by Egyptian military security forces as recently as the end of last year? Here is an excerpt from a Reuters article that was posted on March 11th, 2012 on the MSNBC World News site (Source):
Controversy over the virginity tests gathered pace after a general was quoted by CNN last year as saying tests were carried out to prove the women were not virgins when they were detained, so they could not say they were raped in detention.
An army official later denied the comments were made.
A civilian court issued a ruling in December ordering the army to end the practice and a military judicial official then said cases of reported forced virginity tests had been transferred to the Supreme Military Court.
I am not alone in making this connection. Forbes.com, hardly a hotbed of radicalism, posted an article by contributing writer Victoria Pynchon called “Egyptian Virginity Tests, America’s Shaming Wand and Trudeau’s Satire” (click). The latter reference is to Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau whose cartoon about the compulsory transvaginal ultrasound has been refused by some newspapers that normally run his work. (This is the Los Angeles Times article about it.)
The legislation, if I understand correctly, all seems to come from a particularly conservative part of the Republican Party and is identified with certain Christian denominations or faith communities. However – and again, this is assuming I understand things correctly from far away in Israel – it does not appear to be a pan-Republican or pan-Christian phenomenon. One of the problems is that public debate is seldom nuanced; it is far easier to paint with broad strokes.
I wonder if the people who read this blog would like to join me in discussion about all this. I am very interested in finding out what my friends around the world think about it. Just one thing: comments are not moderated but, as always, I reserve the right to delete inflammatory, trolling or ad hominem comments. Argue fiercely and fairly.
So who’s first?