Written by: Karly Berezowsky
Can an ultrasound amount to rape?
The Sonogram House Bill 15, passed by the 82nd Texas Legislative Session and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry last month, mandates that Texas doctors have to perform an invasive exam with an ultrasound probe before performing an abortion.
According to The New York Times, many Texas physicians and pro-choice advocates such as Dr. Curtis Boyd, view the law as “state-sanctioned abuse” that “borders on a definition of rape.”
Boyd is not alone in thinking the procedure is similar to forced physical rape.
Tiffany Arnold, volunteer escort coordinator at Jacksonville’s A Women’s Choice abortion clinic, believes any law that forces women to listen to a doctor describe the body parts of a fetus while simultaneously listening to the heartbeat is “nothing short of psychological rape.”
“Governor Perry’s new bill is sadly one that is setting precedent for the rest of the country. The transvaginal ultrasound, when being forced on women who more than likely would choose not to have one, is the state’s way of physically raping women who are exercising their right to choose,” said Arnold.
Arnold argues that the law ignores both women’s aversion to the procedure as well as the feelings of medical professionals providing abortions. According to Arnold the law is “one of the biggest intrusions of big government” as “it forces physicians to perform a procedure against the patient’s free will.”
Critics believe the law aims to bully women wanting an abortion to reconsider their options. Carole Joffe, University of California-San Francisco professor at Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, condemns the law as an obscene invasion of women’s privacy and women’s rights because it eliminates any possibility of discretion and clouds an individual’s choice.
“I believe, like Dr. Boyd believes, that the Texas ultrasound bill is abusive. The law is abusive because it forces women to make an extra visit to the clinic, 24 hours after her ultrasound, which means she is losing another day’s pay and has to pay for yet another day of childcare. Its only purpose is to shame women and make abortion care more expensive for the patient and more difficult to provide for the clinic. I don’t think one has to call the law rape in order to see it as terrible public policy,” said Joffe.
Other pro-life activists view the bill to be beneficial because it increases awareness of the pregnancy and medical risks surrounding abortion.
John Jansen, project coordinator for Chicago’s Pro-Life Action League, said, “Ultrasounds support the medical principle of informed choice, and are used to assist doctors and protect the health and welfare of patients, so I support these laws. I do think other states should implement similar laws that require women to have some type of access to an ultrasound before abortion.”
President Brad Straley of Jacksonville For Life, said, “The state of Texas is trying to better inform young women of their choices.”
Straley agrees with the 24-hour waiting period. Straley said, “It is the mother’s choice and it is rather difficult to make a decision until you receive all the information and have an opportunity to think about it. Personally, I am always disappointed when the pro-abortion people say informing a young woman is abuse.”
Women have the right to vote, the right to education, yet according to the Texas Sonogram Bill, women still do not have complete authority over their own bodies.