“… the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.”
I got into an argument today on Facebook over this. I am not one to argue on Facebook, or debate, or whatever it is you call it, but this is really, really getting to me.
I am a woman. I have anatomy that requires different doctors and proceedures than males get on a regular basis. I take medication every day – birth control pills – to control a painful, debilitatitng, and even potentially life threatening medical condition that a man can never have, because it’s regarding my ovaries. I have a child that I am raising pretty much on my own. I know how hard it is to carry a baby to term, to give birth, to recover from birth – and that’s just the beginning. Children need nurturing, they need financial security, they need clothing and shelter and food and love and time and devotion. Knowing what I know now, as a single mother, I know that if I were to have irresponsible sex and find myself pregnant again – pregnant and unloved and alone – I would have an abortion as soon as possible. Immediately. Without a second thought. Because I have thought about it for a long time, what being a mother means to me as compared to what it means to other moms I know. It’s sort of hard to say it, but I know I never want to go through it again: pregnancy, birth, infancy, motherhood. I have my child. I’m done. But mistakes happen, accidents happen, anything could happen. And I should never, EVER have to be punished or shamed for asking for a medical procedure that is currently legal under federal law, and no one else should be either.
So my argument was that it wasn’t necessary for all women having abortions to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Gestational age and the size of a fetus can be determined by the date of the last period and from feeling the size of the uterus from palpating the abdomen. It’s not rocket science. Any woman who has been pregnant knows that she didn’t get an ultrasound the first day she went to the doctor with her positive home test and sore boobies. You have to wait for that goodnees. At least most of us do. But regardless, an ultrasound MAY be part of an abortion PROCEDURE. That’s what I was arguing. That when a woman is about to have an abortion, a doctor may use an ultrasound to guide the procedure. Maybe.
It isn’t necessary to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound BEFORE an abortion procedure. That is my argument and I am sticking to it, and thankfully, so are many members of congress.
Listen. Wait. Look at this picture, and then listen.
I had my first trans-vaginal ultrasound about a year and a half after Elise was born. Now they are more common during pregnancy, but six or seven years ago when I was pregnant I never had one. It was only after, when I started having problems.
I’d been having really rough, heavy periods ever since Elise was born and things got back to their new normal. They were worse than they had ever been, and they were accompanied with debilitating cramps, and when I say debilitating I mean I missed work over them sometimes, because all I could do was lay curled up in bed, moaning and motionless, until the searing pain the spread from my abdomen to my back let loose its grip and subsided. Before giving birth, I had hardly cramped during periods. Something was wrong, I knew, but I didn’t deal with it as fast as I should have.
One night I was at a bar with Brian and Alisha and I had some sort of attack. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a cyst on my left ovary bursting. I was in agony, but I was also a couple three or four beers past being totally drunk, so I half laughed and half cried and went to sleep, promising to make a doctor’s appointment in the morning, which I did. I called my OBGYN and was referred right away to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound to figure out what the heck was going on in there.
The day I went for the appointment, Alisha and Michelle came with me. They waited outside and I was led into a dim little room with a massive wedge on top of a rickety gurney. A woman, not quite friendly, told me to undress and get up on that wedge, get my butt as high in the air as I could with my butt right on the edge of the wedge. I did it, squirmed around while she watched, and it was remarkably uncomfortable. I had put my feet in many a pair of stirrups and spread my knees, but this was different.
The tech lubed up the probe – there is nothing else really to call it. It was huge – I mean well over a foot long, and wider than I had expected. It had a curved, nubby edge like a penis.
The tech asked me to relax while she inserted it into me. Now, years later, I know that most doctors or ultrasound techs will ask you to reach under a sheet and insert the probe yourself, which is in my opinion a testament to the fact that the trans-vaginal ultrasound is much more invasive than other gynocological procedures. You certainly don’t have an OBGYN asking you to please insert your own speculum and swab your own cervix for a pap smear.
The probe went in and in and in, the tech was twisting and turning it as she slid it in, and then she hit the cervix and the pain began. The pain that didn’t stop for next ten minutes as she took pictures of my ovaries, particularly the left one, which looked as it were as cratered as the moon.
It hurts when things touch your cervix. It just hurts. It makes you cramp, it makes you ache, and it’s something no man – like, for instance, the men on the panel against contraception yesterday – will ever feel.
But then we come back to the basics of it. Your ass is in the air, your legs are spread wide up on a wedge of hard foam that, let’s face it, belongs in the bedroom, not a doctor’s office. You’re being vaginally probed by a stranger, and it’s hurting you. It’s hurting you.
When it comes to abortion, it is not necessary. It is just a tool for bigots to hurt and shame women into not exercising their right to an abortion, the right granted to them under federal law.
Damnit, it makes me so angry. I’m ANGRY!!! Aren’t you?