Censorship & Choice


I myself don’t read Doonesbury with any regularity. I skim over it from time to time, but from an early age I knew that it was basically a political cartoon that somehow made it from the Opinion page to the comics page. And because I now don’t even read a hard copy of the paper, I never really see the comics at all.

However, my Twitter feed today included a spec from NARAL referencing the fact that Garry Trudeau’s work was not being allowed in several periodicals, like two Florida papers, the Gainesville Sun and the Ocala Star-Banner.

The reason? Trudeau is pointing out the absurdity of recent ultrasound laws. He says, “I chose the topic of compulsory sonograms because it was in the news and because of its relevance to the broader battle over women’s health currently being waged in several states. For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to re-litigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago.”

He addresses the concept with the same straight-forward attitude that we wish other people would understand,  “Texas’s HB-15 [bill] isn’t hard to explain: The bill says that in order for a woman to obtain a perfectly legal medical procedure, she is first compelled by law to endure a vaginal probe with a hard, plastic 10-inch wand. The World Health Organization defines rape as ‘physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration — even if slight — of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.’ You tell me the difference.”

The strip, while tackling a controversial topic, isn’t even raising any new issues. It’s simply throwing the reality of the ultrasound laws back into the faces of those writing them. To say these laws are anything but shaming techniques is ridiculous. On NARAL’s blog, comments have been as follows:

From Katie: My comment probably won’t get in, but having a transvaginal ultrasound is already standard procedure for an abortion. As well as sticking other sharp and blunt objects into a woman’s vagina during an abortion. The legislation just says that the woman should be offered to view the ultrasound prior to the abortion- not that its even mandatory that she views- but that she is offered. You get to see your teeth x-rays prior to dental work, why wouldn’t you be offered to see your uterine contents prior to your surgical procedure? Why is there shame in that? I don’t feel shame looking at my teeth x-rays. Are you admitting there is something to be ashamed of?

Response from Amy: Katie, Vaginal ultrasounds are not standard procedures for abortions, and the VA, TX, OH, etc. bills do not “offer” it to a woman, as you say, but require it. A woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy is never an easy one, regardless of circumstances. The legislature becoming involved in such a personal decision is wrong. You’ve obviously never had to make that choice, nor have any of the (predominantly) white, middle-upper-class men that proposition it. I respect your right to your opinion, but be more informed on the issue before just responding emotionally. And to Garry Trudeau I say Thank you.

I probably couldn’t have said it any better than Amy, but you know I tried: Yes Katie, most abortions do require an ultrasound, in order to prove that there is a pregnancy in the first place. However, they are not all transvaginal. At 7 weeks, I had a standard abdominal ultrasound. As far as what was inserted into me during the procedure, at no time was it a blunt or sharp object. Women know what they’re doing when it comes to an abortion. They go in pregnant, they come out not. It’s not even comparable to a dental x-ray. When my dentist shows me a x-ray of my teeth, it’s to show me a cavity, to let me know where and how big it is, and to decide when to get it filled. I don’t need to see a sonogram, have details of the embryo explained to me, to know what I want to do next. By making a woman listen to all that, and then go home and think about it for 24 hours, it’s like putting her in a time out. “Now go home and think about what you’re doing!” If she’s there, she already thought about it. It’s a simple shaming tactic. Per this legislation, it’s not an offer to see the images, it’s a requirement.

Longwinded as always, I think my point was pretty clear. The main focus is, of course, the 24 hour waiting period. As I said, when a woman goes into that appointment, she knows what she wants to do. She doesn’t need to be sent home like a child. Granted, I don’t know how easy it is to do things in other clinics, but I had to call to schedule an appointment. Which means I had three weeks to think about it from the time of the phone call right up to the actual procedure.

On one hand, I want to concede. Fine. Do whatever you want as long as you’re not out-right illegaling abortion. But on the other, where does it end? Roe v. Wade was decided long long ago. Why can’t we just leave it alone? What’s next, a movement to overturn the 21st Amendment (outlawing Prohibition. Also the name of my friend’s bar)? Or the 19th Amendment (giving women the vote)?

I’m just beyond exhausted on all of it (in case you didn’t notice by the lack of updates). It would have made a shitty suffragette. “No, Alice Paul, I will not stand on the street with you today. I’m tired, and it’s cold, and President Wilson isn’t even working today.” And I can’t help but wonder if that’s the game plan. Wear us down until we just give up. Fine, fine, yes, I’m a walking incubator.

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About Melissa Limasse

| Real name - Yeah right | Location – The State of Being | Worth - $2,425,486 | Education – B.A. Sociology and Psychology, A.As. in Criminal Justice | Single, childless, and completely satisfied with both, Ms. Limasse doesn’t fit into the traditional “female” mold. Most people would say she’s intimidating. Anything that she says here she has most likely already said out loud View all posts by Melissa Limasse

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