The Virginia Ultrasound Bill and the Moniker of Rape


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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297 Responses

  1. Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

    I despise the bill, and do agree that the ultrasound is, in at least part, punitive, but share your extreme reservations about using the word “rape” to describe it.    “Rape” is one of those power words, that invokes revulsion just upon hearing it;  and I would like to keep it that way.

    I do believe that it is inappropriate for the state to be mandating not-medically-necessary medical procedures, particularly when there are non-invasive options  (the same policy and emotional ends could be achieved by showing a picture of an embryo at the same stage of development;  and a non-invasive ultrasound could reinforce the emotional truth in the patient that there is an incipient life growing inside her (even if the image is less clear to an untrained eye, and less human-looking.

    In my kingdom the state would not be interfering in that particular decision;  but I understand that many people feel strongly differently.   And I have never been able to tally the seeming contradiction of people who want a smaller, less-coercive state–one that would not so much as give food to a little girl–inserting themselves (accidental pun!) into that kind of decision.

    Nevertheless, while the Virginia law is, invasive, it is not rape.   At least not while words have specific meanings.Report

  2. Avatar Sam says:

    The reason for using the word rape, as I understand it, is this: it requires, for anyone seeking an abortion in their first twelve weeks or pregnancy, to undergo an invasive exam, where an instrument is inserted into the patient’s vagina. That the instrument in question is quite phallic probably contributes.

    The issue is one of consent – the woman is not allowed to say no, and in fact, the Virginia legislature voted down language allowing her to. In essence, they either get probed or they don’t get the abortion.

    That’s why the term rape is being used. Women would be forced to undergo this procedure – one that exists for no medical reason in this scenario – to get access to the entirely legal healthcare that they’re actually at the clinic for.  It’s punishment for the crime of being pregnant and not wanting to be. Anybody claiming anything else is intentionally trying to to confuse the issue.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Then I would ask you under that definition, was my friend’s daughter a victim of rape?Report

      • Avatar Sam says:

        Before we get into that, I’m afraid we’d need more details of the pelvic examination this mother made her daughter undergo. Which I really don’t want to do, as it seems to me there is a difference between anti-choice zealots using the mechanism of the state to force women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds – as if they don’t know why they’re at the clinic – and a concerned mother worried for her child’s well-being.

        I don’t want the gory details, in other words. I don’t think they’re comparable situations. But if nothing was uncovered and if the mother in question was simply trying to punish her daughter by forcing her to get an invasive pelvic exam for nothing more than her own spite, then yes, I think we ought to at least consider what was done.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        As I understand it, by the time the procedure was performed, the girl was willing. If you asked her, “will you undergo this procedure” you get a “yes.”

        This may be parental abuse, but it’s not rape.

        If she was at the time unwilling, then it’s sexual abuse, as per J in the thread.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          I agree w/JB and Kimmi here as well.  And per Dr. Saunders, on the propriety of the girl being examined against her will.

          As the relation to the VA law, it’s rhetoric that adds heat and no light.  The abortion itself is far more invasive, and if the law says the ultrasound is a necessary part of informed consent then the ultrasound and the abortion itself are not severable.  In fact, that’s the entire theory of the law, to bind the abortion itself with informed consent.

          I cannot agree much with Mr. Kelly’s conclusion that the ultrasound is intended to humiliate women, not save babies.  Nor do I find his euphemistic “experiencing her own sexuality” as helpful—within this rhetorical construct, the abortion itself is “experiencing her own sexuality”: lest we forget, sex makes babies and to ignore the necessary link between sex and pregnancy is to ignore the reality of this whole thing.

          Neither did I quite follow the bit about the conservative kid, black people, and Chicken McNuggets, Tod.  I guess I’m as dumb as that kid.  ;-PReport

          • Avatar Sam says:


            Do you really think women are so stupid that they don’t know what they’re doing at an abortion clinic?Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Sam, I think the abortionists lie to their patients and their giving of “informed consent” is questionable at least, at least sometimes, and often enough to be a real factor.


              At first, the baby didn’t seem aware of the cannula. It gently probed the baby’s side, and for a quick second I felt relief. Of course, I thought. The fetus doesn’t feel pain. I had reassured countless women of this as I’d been taught by Planned Parenthood. The fetal tissue feels nothing as it is removed. Get a grip, Abby. This is a simple, quick medical procedure. My head was working hard to control my responses, but I couldn’t shake an inner disquiet that was quickly mounting to horror as I watched the screen.

              The next movement was the sudden jerk of a tiny foot as the baby started kicking, as if it were trying to move away from the probing invader. As the cannula pressed its side, the baby began struggling to turn and twist away. It seemed clear to me that it could feel the cannula, and it did not like what it was feeling. And then the doctor’s voice broke through, startling me.

              “Beam me up, Scotty,” he said lightheartedly to the nurse. He was telling her to turn on the suction — in an abortion the suction isn’t turned on until the doctor feels he has the cannula in exactly the right place.

              I had a sudden urge to yell, “Stop!” To shake the woman and say, “Look at what is happening to your baby! Wake up! Hurry! Stop them!”

              But even as I thought those words, I looked at my own hand holding the probe. I was one of “them” performing this act. My eyes shot back to the screen again. The cannula was already being rotated by the doctor, and now I could see the tiny body violently twisting with it. For the briefest moment the baby looked as if it were being wrung like a dishcloth, twirled and squeezed. And then it crumpled and began disappearing into the cannula before my eyes. The last thing I saw was the tiny, perfectly formed backbone sucked into the tube, and then it was gone. And the uterus was empty. Totally empty.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We may not have the Right to prevent this.

                I’m something approaching “at ease” with that.

                I oppose the position that says that “nothing worth mentioning happened”. From the fiber of my being.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                That was the story of a former Planned Parenthood official, JB.  She’d convinced herself that “nothing happens” during an abortion.  Until she saw one.

                As for “rights” and the law, if we can legislate the morality that you can’t eat dogs or horses for food, I’m comfortable we can legislate the morality of this.

                But I admit that under the current view of competing rights per <em>Roe</em>,  it’s doubtful the state or society even has a “compelling interest” in the “informed consent” the Virginia law is trying to achieve.  I think this will be tossed under equal protection and “undue burden.”

                “Informed consent” seems to me a moral necessity, but I think the courts will allow it zero legal importance.

                In a way, Virginia’s relatively toothless “personhood” law is of more interest, and I think touches your own concern

                I oppose the position that says that “nothing worth mentioning happened”. From the fiber of my being.

                as well.  [If I read you correctly.]  I took a look at it here, in case you missed it.


                If we are ever to legislate the morality of abortion, this is a necessary first philosophical step, and I don’t think we’ve taken it, that the pregnancy-blastocyst-baby is something and not “nothing.”  Without confronting that first step, we’re really into a simple power of majoritarian politics thing, and the political pendulum will likely keep swinging to & fro.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Tom, where you and I differ is not in whether or not a “sin” happened.

                It’s in whether or not we have the okay to *PREVENT* this “sin” from happening.

                I don’t know that we do… and, to be quite frank, whenever I have encountered someone who claims that we do have the okay to do so, they’ve come across about as persuasively (if not less persuasively) than Mr. Carter on this very page.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                JB, “sin” is about the least useful word or context I can think of in this context, or at this blog, or in this century.  They might as well take it out of the dictionary.

                As for what morality requires from us in action, I suppose we could ask Pontius Pilate, but he’s no hero of mine.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Really? It seems the most appropriate to me.

                And, as public officials go, he’s always been on the top half of the list of politicians I hate least.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                I heard his wife was rather upset about the whole thing!Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                OK, I’m going to respond to this from my pro-choice perspective, primarily because of the phrase, “if we are ever to legislate the morality of abortion.”  I have several things to say, some of which might offend, but I am not seeking to offend.

                As far as I know we do not legislate morality in this country.  Moral positions might inform legislation, but we legislate against acts or to mandate acts.

                What that woman witnessed is not evidence that a fetus, much less an embryo, is a human life.  Fully comparable responses can be elicited from a paramecium.  Just when we confer all the rights and privileges of personhood is a matter of legitimate debate, but it is certainly not at conception, and as the OP here clearly shows it might not in some senses be even 18 years after conception. Forcing women to get these ultrasounds in the hope that they might see inconclusive thing that might horrify them is, in my view, immoral.

                Abortions have been happening since time immemorial, and illegalizing them or stigmatizing them has never prevented them.  An older physician I know who interned before Roe felt that, though he opposed abortion, he supported a woman’s right to choose because of the fairly constant stream of victims of botched abortions he saw in emergency rooms in the 1960s.

                There’s a real debate about the realities of abortion, and because we currently guarantee a woman’s right to choose to a limited extent that debate is meaningful.  Pretending that the issue is clearly black and white contributes nothing.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                JustJohn, you just argued the “immorality” of the ultrasound.  We can’t help ourselves, can we?

                And of course we legislate morality all the time, as I illustrated earlier in the same sentence you quoted from.  You can’t eat Fido.

                If you want to split hairs

                 Moral positions might inform legislation, but we legislate against acts or to mandate acts.

                the result is the same.Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                TVD, I said that I found what I imagine to be the motive behind the legislation to be immoral, not that the legislators behind it should be legally punished for trying to bring legislation informed by their morality.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Whatever, JustJohn.  What you condemn as immoral I think is explicitly moral, necessarily moral.  What your moral code is, how you reason morally, I have no idea.  Your moral condemnation here is clear, and seems to be the basis for your opposition to the ultrasound requirement.

                I think it’s quite moral, to pursue informed consent.  I applaud it.  As a legal thing, I can’t be more even-handed than to admit

                “Informed consent” seems to me a moral necessity, but I think the courts will allow it zero legal importance.

                You don’t think informed consent is a moral necessity, or even if so, that it’s immoral to try to ensure it?  Fine.

                I have no way of following or predicting your approach to morality except perhaps it’s the reification of “choice” as the ultimate morality.  Me, I think that’s untenable.Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                TVD, “informed consent” to a medical procedure is about the patient being informed as to the risks and potential consequences of the medical procedure she’s to undergo.  A woman seeking an abortion is a woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy.  To you, that means terminating an existing human life.  The visual information from these ultrasounds does not demonstrate that there’s an existing human life in there any more than saying, “there’s a human life in there,” which not everyone would say.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                You don’t think informed consent is a moral necessity, or even if so, that it’s immoral to try to ensure it?  Fine.

                Of course Just John never said any such thing, and for Tom Van Dyke to say so is reprehensibly dishonest.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                JustJohn, I’m not using the term medically: I’ll stipulate your use of it in that context.

                I’m afraid the neighborhood has just soured for me, for reasons that have nothing to do with you, and so I must depart this discussion now.  I will monitor your replies and demurrals, if any, but this discussion is no longer productive, and is likely to turn more and more unpleasant.  We had a nice run of 100+ comments and my compliments to the gentlepersons of good will who made it possible.


              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I’m afraid the neighborhood has just soured for me,


              • Avatar Just John says:

                So long.  But I’ll say this as you’re walking out the door:  The original question in the OP here was whether the mother and the doctor could be said to have raped the daughter, and whether it’s acceptable for opponents of the new VA law to use the term rape in describing that law.  I started by saying that I thought it was acceptable for people to use the word rape in reference to this law for expressive purposes, but that I didn’t think the law was mandating rape.

                (I also think it’s acceptable for anti-choice advocates to call abortion murder, because they actually are convinced that human life is taken by abortion, though I don’t believe human life is taken in very early abortions, and in late-term abortions I’m a little greyer on that but those are allowed for medical necessity rather than on demand so it gets to be a forced trade-off in cases of saving the mother’s life or euthanasia in cases of terminating a doomed pregnancy.)

                But this discussion has ranged far (for which I’m grateful as you are to all our fellow gentlepersons of good will) and below they’ve identified “ritual humiliation” as a more appropriate term than “rape” or “sexual assault” — which seems on target to me after having engaged in this thread.  But to the extent that rape is not about sex but rather about power/revenge/hate, that makes me wonder if I spoke too soon in saying that I didn’t think the VA legislature was mandating rape.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I’m afraid the neighborhood has just soured for me,



              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                I’m not sure just what you’re booing here.  Mr. Van Dyke blatantly misrepresented JustJohn’s argument, then played the victim when called on it.  If you’re booing that, I’m with you.  If you’re booing me for calling him on his game, I’ll confess to sincere disappointment.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                This marks twice TVD has been caught and exposed in a lie and ran away instead of responding. Twice this week, that is.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


                Of course Just John never said any such thing, and for Tom Van Dyke to say so is reprehensibly dishonest.

                Eh, what?

                TVD said upthread: “I think the abortionists lie to their patients and their giving of “informed consent” is questionable at least, at least sometimes, and often enough to be a real factor.”

                I personally think that’s waving a lot of hands, but I’m not exactly sure how I would go about refuting it.  In any event, Tom clearly regards the ultrasound as a legitimate attempt to increase information.  I note from a bit of research I did on this since my gigantic blowout the other day that it appears that in many cases, when women view an ultrasound prior to an early term abortion, they report being reassured that they’re terminating a nonperson, and ultrasound requirements/availabilities haven’t had a material affect on the number of abortions performed in the states in which they are in effect, so I think the evidence is against his position at this point, but nobody challenged that, really.

                John said, “Forcing women to get these ultrasounds in the hope that they might see inconclusive thing that might horrify them is, in my view, immoral.”

                TVD said that in the context of “What you condemn as immoral I think is explicitly moral, necessarily moral”, and thus “You don’t think informed consent is a moral necessity, or even if so, that it’s immoral to try to ensure it?”

                I don’t think his misrepresenting John’s position at all, just clarifying where it appears to sit in his own moral framework.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                In any event, Tom clearly regards the ultrasound as a legitimate attempt to increase information.

                Tom might think that, but even if he does, when is ‘more information’ sufficient for ‘consent’ to be justified? That’s the disingenuous reading, that’s what James H called him out for, and it blatantly begs the question against JustJohn. TVD does this all the time. Then flees when reasonable people call him out for the argument – not the content – of his views.

                So it’s not enough to say his view is an ‘honestly held belief’. It needs  argument. From him.


              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                even if he does, when is ‘more information’ sufficient for ‘consent’ to be justified?

                Sufficient?  This depends on what you’re talking about informing someone about, I guess.  I don’t stand on the same post Tom does, so I’m not sure what he’d say, either.

                I can, however, easily imagine me saying on a similar parallel conversation, “I think this is going to come down to who holds the burden of proof” again, given the right topic.

                I personally find the law repugnant, I’m with the good Doctor.  I don’t think there’s a substantive amount of information that anyone is going to get from this particular ultrasound procedure that they can’t get through any one of a number of other methods; if you think that women seeking an abortion are possibly in a state of information asymmetry, you may have a justifiable case but (a) I doubt it and (b) even if you do, it’s clearly not the case that it’s all right to demand a medical procedure that, itself, is not (IMO) arguably necessary to correct the information asymmetry and (c) you don’t get to state that case, you have to make it.

                As has been mentioned elsewhere, there’s plenty of existing medical data that you can offer to show someone.

                Indeed, from my perspective, one of the bits of informed consent is that you can only inform people to the extent they wish to be informed.  If the doctor says, “This procedure may cure your condition, but it has a high likelihood of side effects including…” and I interrupt him and say, “I don’t want to know what the possible side effects may be, unless they are life-threatening, just give me the paper and let me sign” I (again, this is my opinion here) have the right to decide how much information *I* need before I’m adequately informed.

                The state can require the doctor to offer information.  It ought not to require the patient to consume it.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Thx, Mr. Cahalan.  Of course I didn’t “lie,”  and that’s an accurate assessment of my formal argument to JJohn.

                I’ve invested 100+ comments worth in this, and now I refuse to be around people who think the rules of civility don’t apply to them, and so peace, I’m out.  Thx for the back, man, esp since you manifestly are not in agreement with me on the topic.  That’s a gentleman.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Tom, Patrick does manifestly disagree with you. And in fact he called you out on the particulars – a justification for the procedure. He even said that he doesn’t think that a justification for the procedure has merit, since there are other ways to gain the same knowledge independently of the invasive procedure.

                As to the critique of ‘Gentlemen’, if this forum is a merely a presentation of disparate views without further comment, then I admit I’m sometimes less than Gentlemanly. But if we’re permitted to challenge people’s views on their merits, then, no, I don’t think any one is ‘unGentlemanly’ in challenging you to provide an argument to support the mere possession of a belief.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I have no problem with disagreement, Mr. Stillwater, which is why PatC is thumbs up from me.  If you think that’s what this is about, you’re missing a lot.  Now, please, let me go.  I’ve had my say and will not subject myself further to personal attacks.

                You think the ultrasound requirement is unjustified?  Yes, I think after 100+ comments, that the consensus rebuttal,  we are not into new territory here,  and me, I’m fine with that disagreement.  Let’s leave it there, thx and goodnight.  We’ve covered it.

                But we do legislate morality.  All the time.  😉  That we don’t or can’t is just a cliche.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Pat- I was referring to Tom’s lies on his sidebar post about a poll relating to thr Church/contraception issue. I quoted him saying that the whole point of his post was X. When I pointed out a hole in this point, he stated the point was something else. When I requoted his initial statement back to him, wherein he himself said what the point was and which he was subsequently denying ever saying, he disengaged. I’d link toit but I don’t know how to find old side bars. I didn’t follow the whole convo here but trusted JH’s assessment. If he erred, I’ll retract my previous comment and refer only to the one lie he was caught in this past week.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Tom, you say you have no problem with disagreement. And that may be true. (How would I know?) But if you mean by that you agree to disagree, then you don’t present that view very well in your writing. In fact, it always strikes me as the opposite.That you

                Agreeing to disagree is a matter of conceding ‘self-evident’ base values, or ‘self-evident’ base premises, and making an argument from those positions. You don’t do that. You continually accuse people who hold opposing views of being either willfully ignorant, incapable of non-partisan interpretations of the world, or general stoopidity.

                That’s not agreeing to disagree. That’s something else.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Still, there are people who inject themselves into the discussions here whom I want nothing to do with.  If you wish to ally yourself with them, then I shall give up on you too.  That’s not a threat, it’s that I’ve come to realize they’re not interested in discussing my thoughts, they’re interested in fighting, and attacking me personally.  Life’s too short, and we owe hostile people zero of our time.

                Of course you’re correct about foundational premises: if there’s nothing wrong with abortion, or that there is no trumping question above the freedom of a woman’s body, then all these discussions are moot.   It should go without saying, then, that we agree to disagree.

                It’s really only those who have reservations about the equation, the moral continuum, who can profit from these discussions.  Everybody else is just an Unstoppable Force or Immovable Object, and there’s little to be gained by watching them clash.Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                TVD, you don’t seem to see much a continuum in the morality of abortion, just a black and white belief that it’s always wrong.

                And we don’t legislate morality all the time.  Hate crimes legislation is about as far as that goes, and even there it’s not a crime just to hate.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not true, JJohn.  If I were king, I wouldn’t ban abortion from the moment of conception, at least not today, and perhaps never.  Needless to say neither would I allow it unrestricted.  You don’t know my entire position.  I’m not even sure I know meself.  Mostly, I’m saying I’m unsatisfied with most of the moral clarity about the issue, that it hides behinds cliches.

                Yes, we do legislate morality.  The graduated income tax is legislating morality.  All sorts of stuff.  There’s no getting around it.

                Thx for your time. We have reached the point of diminishing returns.  It was a good discussion.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Van Dyke said of JustJohn; “You don’t think informed consent is a moral necessity..”

                But of course that’s not what JustJohn said.  What Van Dyke could have said that would have been honest was, “you don’t see as a moral necessity what I see as necessary for informed consent.”  But that’s not what Van Dyke said.  He made a claim about what JustJohn thinks that cannot be fairly drawn from what JustJohn said.

                That is a dishonest argumentative style, and it’s called out often on these pages.  If the League is serious about having a better caliber of debate than other blogs, it can’t just be about using fish instead of fuck, but at rock bottom has to be about letting others speak for themselves, not telling them what they believe (there was recently a front page post on that), and not misrepresenting and twisting their arguments for one’s own gain.

                I don’t see how any reasonable person can think that Van Dyke’s claim that JustJohn does not see informed consent as a moral necessity is in any way a fair reading of JustJohn’s comment.  I think any other writer here at the League would back off and apologize for making such a misrepresentation, but not only does Van Dyke not admit to his error, he claims to be the wrong party, playing his classic victimization game.

                And not only this, but League front pagers come to the defense of his behavior, even as he undermines the quality of debate you’re all looking for.


              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I’ve invested 100+ comments worth in this, and now I refuse to be around people who think the rules of civility don’t apply to them


              • Avatar kenB says:

                Mr. Hanley, here’s my two cents: you pleaded your case a while back and the blog owners and FPers declined your petition.  At this point you’re just being childish  (especially the ridiculous 99 thing) — this isn’t your blog, and your opinion is not Truth.

                FWIW, IMHO, and all that.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                I respect your two cents.  But I respect reasoned debate even more.

                What is more offensive, engaging in dishonest debate or pointing out someone’s dishonesty?Report

              • Avatar kenB says:

                Well, I see any number of comments, from a variety of commenters, that fall well short of “reasoned debate” — Tom would be far from the top of my personal list of people to kick off the island. If you respect the blog owners and front-pagers here, then the fact that they defend Tom should be enough for you to consider re-evaluating your own opinion; but at a minimum I think you owe it to them to let it rest.

                FWIW, I really appreciate your contributions to this site, except for what strikes me as a bit of an obsession with policing TVD.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Thank you. I feel no animosity in response to your comments, and have always respected your contributions, too. But I believe that while any number of people fall short of fair debate tactics at time (and I can’t pretend I’m not among that number), I see only one regular who does so as a regular practice.  Even so, I am not asking for him to be expelled from the blog (though lord knows, the League has expelled other authors who have sinned less).  I am simply unwilling to aid and abet persistent dishonesty in debate by turning a blind eye to it.

                The League’s principals, can, of course demand that I stop.  But I do think that demanding that someone not point out error, while not demanding correction of error, is in all cases at all times in all domains the wrong decision.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                (At the risk of wading into something I really don’t wish to…)

                James, this is all well and good.  But even if you do think Tom falls short of debating tactics, isn’t it possible that you and others go way, way overboard?  The guy can’t even make a comment on a thread these days without some a-hole jumping in and yelling that Tom hates women, or rapes people, or whatever, and it all becomes this repetitive, non-stop collective noise that isn’t interesting, or helpful, or intellectual – and certainly isn’t nice.

                I’d just like to suggest to you that for a guy that comes here regularly and at least starts with a positive attitude, participates, and goes out of his way to say nice things to a lot of folks – even folks that disagree with him – that this is a pretty s**ty way to treat him.  Or, really, anyone.  And that maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to not be part of all of that.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                I don’t think Van Dyke should be subject to those types of criticisms, for precisely the same reasons I’ve given above.  And I have at times weighed in to defend him from those criticisms, for those same reasons.  They’re a dishonest and degenerative form of debate.

                So I willingly direct these criticisms at anybody who I notice behaving that way, and the only reason there appear to be so many directed at Van Dyke is because he’s not simply an miscreant, but that this type of dishonest debate is his standard mode of operation.

                I’m willing to discuss this off-line, via email, so it’s not so public. (Feel free to email me if you want to have a more open exchange about this.)  But I’m rather appalled that the concern seems to be less about lack of integrity in debate, and more about whether someone is being so uncouth as to point out that lack of integrity.

                If you honestly don’t think Van Dyke engages in this type of behavior as a persistent mode of behavior, I think you should look closer.  The commenters who have agreed with me on this are not exactly dim bulbs, and not exactly people who are wont to go around picking on particular people just for kicks.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I think that James’ use of “99” (which I’ve adopted now as well, after he suggested it) is actually about the most mature stance possible on Tom at this point. James and I, as well as BSK and others, have been watching Tom pull the same nonsense over and over for years now. James was smart and mature enough to recognize that we’ve all said it as many times as we can, so there’s no reason to say it any more. However, Tom’s not a proper troll or some occasional or one-time commenter. He’s not even just a regular commenter anymore, he’s a front page author. So his bullshit shouldn’t go unnoted. The 99 serves to note that Tom is, once again, full of it, but without turning the discussion into a discussion about how Tom is full of it (it’s not like his methods vary over time).

                I don’t think you throw out a Tom Van Dyke, I think you keep him around, because he’s instructive: this is how low people will sink when their interest is not truth or discussion, but the furthering of a narrow agenda. The 99 serves as a sort of marker for the times when he provides such instruction.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Heretofore I’ve stayed off this article, simply because it’s flame bait.   Tom Van Dyke and I have had our disagreements but I don’t see any benefit to beating him up.    If he sinks to what y’all think are dishonest and unethical positions, his many enemies hereabouts should contradict him from what facts they can summon to the debate.   Much heat and little light on this article.

                We return you to your regularly scheduled rant.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                If he sinks to what y’all think are dishonest and unethical positions, his many enemies hereabouts should contradict him from what facts they can summon to the debate.

                We’ve done that, Blaise, many and many a time.  His response to that is to cry “sophist,” or to claim he’s being misrepresented followed by a refusal to clarify himself (he frequently says something like, “you know what I really mean, you’re just purposely pretending you don’t,”).  That’s why several of us accuse him of ducking and weaving–you can’t pin him down on facts because is position will continually shift to avoid uncomfortable facts.

                I think Chris is right about keeping him around as a model for bad argument (and I’ve never argued for expelling him), but for a model to function as a model, it needs to be pointed out from time to time.  Hence, the short and sweet “99.”  I would have left it at that this time as well, except someone seemed to take umbrage at my pointing out the model.  And again I ask League principals if what they want is for such a bad model of argumentation to go unremarked, and de fact treated as though its actually legitimate and representative of League standards.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            Actually, during the early stages of pregnancy, an abortion need not be invasive.  A needle stick with a specific dosage of a drug is sufficient to cause the embryo to be aborted.Report

          • Avatar James says:

            As the relation to the VA law, it’s rhetoric that adds heat and no light.

            You keep using that phrase; I do not think it means what you think it means.

            The abortion itself is far more invasive

            Actually, if you knew the first thing about abortion procedures, you’d know that you were just spouting pure bullshit. Which, knowing you, wouldn’t stop you from spouting.

            and if the law says the ultrasound is a necessary part of informed consent then the ultrasound and the abortion itself are not severable.  In fact, that’s the entire theory of the law, to bind the abortion itself with informed consent.

            Informed consent is a competent medical physician explaining the risks and content of a medical procedure. Informed consent is not, and NEVER before has been, requiring someone to undergo an invasive shoving of a thick item into a bodily orifice before being cleared for an unrelated procedure.

            Your contention is the equivalent of requiring someone to undergo a colonoscopy before they are allowed to be prescribed medicine for recurring constipation, and refusing to treat them if they refuse the colonoscopy and ask for a “virtual colonoscopy” or some other evaluative procedure instead.

            I cannot agree much with Mr. Kelly’s conclusion that the ultrasound is intended to humiliate women, not save babies.

            Of course not. As the old joke goes, “Your honor, I object to that line of testimony! On what grounds? It’s devastating to my case!” I have an idea, how about we require you to get a colonoscopy before future medical treatment and see how humiliated you are. To make it more realistic we could send someone to stand outside the hospital and verbally harass you on the way in and out too, the way your neanderthal buddies do to women.


          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Tom, if you show up in Vegas and find yourself in a situation where you might be required to purchase a drink with your own funds, then FIND ME OR MARIBOU.

            We will make certain that this does not happen for you.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            And not only to informed consent, but to ensure the procedure is done safely and lawfully.

            Maybe I could take it more seriously if those contending that the state has no interest in regulating medical procedures were also the ones out to ban the FDA.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              “And not only to informed consent, but to ensure the procedure is done safely and lawfully.”

              To paraphrase:

              The law has to be X (beyond not outlawing abortion) to ensure that abortions are performed legally. (?)

              I think this might be circular.

              Paraphrasing again:

              A patient needs to be shown a technologically enlarged picture of the fetus developing inside her in order to ensure an abortion can be performed safety. (?)

              I think this might just be factually false.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I don’t know what they do to the image, but it would seem to me, as a layman, that a preliminary examination would be prudent.

                I suppose that, at the opposite end of the spectrum lies those who would prefer that not even a cursory examination should take place prior to any abortion.
                And then there’s pulling up to the Home Depot to ask an illegal immigrant to do it.
                Or the McDonald’s drive-thru.

                As for me, I know that I want a heart monitor if I have to go in for open-heart surgery.
                But that’s just me.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Luckily, no one has to reside at either end of the spectrum (though it’s healthy that you recognize that you do reside at one), since we have the option of relying on the norms of the medical profession to ensure that abortions and other medical procedures are done safely.  After all, that is what we do in the vast majority of medical procedures – requirements for how the majority of procedures must be performed are not written into law; rather doctors (I believe) have to show understanding of currently understood best practices in keeping their licenses up to date.  I don’t think many people do say that an exam is not necessary prior to performing an abortion, least of all practitioners; moreover, but the point is that that’s not written into law either. Doctors perform them as a matter of routine in carrying out their professional responsibilities; your problem is that they don’t always perform this kind of transvaginal ultrasound, because they don’t always (ever?) deem it medically necessary to the procedure, including in carrying out the re-procedural examination.  Your position is that we should reject the accumulated wisdom of the profession and legislate that this should happen, for reasons of entirely dubious medical soundness, perhaps even relevance.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Let’s take a look at this to see if you touched any bases.

                no one has to reside at either end of the spectrum (though it’s healthy that you recognize that you do reside at one)
                No. Actually, I am very much a moderate.
                And my position here is centrist as well. I wouldn’t argue that abortion should be disallowed in all instances nor that it should be permitted under all instances.
                I would argue against absolute rights.
                But right now, I’m just stating the obvious: that the state has an interest in regulating the matter.

                since we have the option of relying on the norms of the medical profession to ensure that abortions and other medical procedures are done safely
                One thing that you don’t hear come up so often in the deification of Dr. Tiller is how he continually failed to report abortions performed on minors to the state.
                And you also don’t hear so much about the prostitution sting at the Flying J truckstop on I-70 where there were a number of minors involved, some as young as 12.
                But actively supporting the sexual exploitation of children is one of those things that we don’t care to talk about so much when braying about a woman’s right to her own body.
                The girl was 12– she obviously had the right to be sexual exploited if she wanted to.

                requirements for how the majority of procedures must be performed are not written into law
                Incorrect. The majority of those laws are written as codes. Ordinarily, codes and standards become binding law through reference and citation.

                that we should reject the accumulated wisdom of the profession and legislate that this should happen
                The profession, solely by virtue of being a profession, is not entitled to determine what is lawful and what is not all by its lonesome.
                Nor is any other profession.
                Ask an insurance agent.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I’ve never had an abortion, because I’m a man and, in general, men don’t get pregnant, but I have volunteered at a clinic that performed abortions, and I’ve accompanied two women who had abortions, so I know a bit about what happens. The first thing the doctor does when you get in is discuss the procedure (what it entails, the recovery, potential complications, etc.), then there’s a physical exam (in neither of my friends’ cases was an ultrasound performed), some lab tests (if I remember correctly, blood was drawn), and then the procedure. It’s my understanding that in some cases, particularly later in the pregnancy, ultrasounds are performed, but in most first-trimester cases, it is deemed unnecessary because it doesn’t tell the doctor or the patient anything they can’t learn from a simple physical exam and blood tests.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            If I came off sounding that the ultrasound’s purpose was to humiliate women and not prevent abortions, than I was not clear.  I thought I said that the purpose was obviously to make women not have abortions.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bit of the other in there as well.  (See the two commentator examples I gave a bit later in the OP.)Report

      • Avatar rexknobus says:

        This is truly a question, and not a sneaky comment…does the mother have the “power of consent” (or equivalent legal term) for the daughter? In other words, in some legal sense, despite the daughter’s objections, does the mother have the legal power to essentially “say yes” to the procedure? And since that “yes” was legally obtained, and valid, does that eliminate “rape” from consideration, no matter how bitterly contested by the daughter?Report

        • Avatar Plinko says:

          I don’t think the list of what parents can consent on their children’s behalf is boundless – you can’t consent to them being assaulted – physically or sexually.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          That’s actually a pretty interesting question.  AS I said in the OP, I’m not inclined to think of it as rape at a ll, but for while that question is up for debate this one seems a good one to ask.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

          AFAIK, parents have a defacto power of attorney over their minor children & can consent to medical procedures for the minor.  Sex is not a medical procedure, so a parent can not consent to sex for a child.Report

        • does the mother have the “power of consent” (or equivalent legal term) for the daughter?

          Depends a bit on the state, but probably not.  She most certainly does not have a moral right.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I remember a kid in my hometown whose parents were Christian Scientists.
            The school found out one day that he hadn’t had any vaccines.
            The CYFD came in to remove the boy from their custody and terminate parental rights.
            The parents, at last, relented.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith says:

              Will, obviously you don’t live in Boulder, CO. Motto: “We’ll bring back extinct disease if it kills us!”Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                No, not at all.
                Stephen King did that one much better in The Stand.
                I’m just pointing out that, as long as we choose to participate in society, the state has some form of interest in public health.
                Had they chosen to be inhabitants of Gilligan’s Island, there wouldn’t be an issue. It was a matter of participating in society; ie attending a public school.

                Further, that interest can, at times, trump religious belief.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Non-consensual penetration that does not involve a penis is, I believe, considered “sexual assault” by law. If “rape” isn’t the best term, I’m pretty sure that “sexual assault” would be quite an appropriate one.

    So long as we go on to state, for the record, that the only reason it is “sexual assault” and not “rape” is because it doesn’t involve a penis, I’d be okay with that.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      Non-consensual is key here.
      Were she to tell the doctor, “No,” that would be non-consensual.
      If the procedure was in progress, and she said, “Stop,” that would be non-consensual from that point on.Report

  4. Avatar Just John says:

    First I’ll just say that I think it’s fine for people opposed to this legislation to use the word rape this way to express their view of it as an outrageous violation of a woman’s body for purposes not her own and to which she wouldn’t submit without coersion.  Next I’ll say that it is not rape.

    Sexual relations/negotiations are not always (maybe even not usually) clear as they unfold.  It is easy to point to an extreme where black and white seem distinct:  no one would question that a person who assaults a stranger and forces submission to sexual use on pain of physical violence is committing rape.

    Date rape is another question, yet I don’t think many deny that it’s possible.  It seems obvious that a person could be on a date and use force to gain sex.  But there’s also a range of situations where the coercion becomes less clearly coercion and shades into persuasion and even perhaps all the way to seduction where the object could still legitimately claim unwillingness.  At some point in there we become unwilling to call it rape.

    I’m not sure your example is to the point, and I don’t call it rape.  Presumably, the doctor would want to hear about the symptoms that concerned the mother, and upon hearing them concurred that invasive examination was medically warranted or necessary.  If the doctor had no medical reason to believe the examination was needed and did it merely at the request of the mother, then I’d be ready to consider calling it rape.Report

    • Avatar Sam says:

      The utterance of the word no is the line, isn’t it?. As soon as she says no, anything that happens afterward is rape, because consent has not been given. All attempts to dance around this are nothing more than carefully designed slut-shaming.

      Meanwhile, your point is absolutely correct about the mother. I question the story though – is there a doctor/gynecologist who would give an invasive pelvic exam without a patient’s consent and without first discussing the alleged symptoms?Report

      • Sad to say, I am reasonably confident that there are far too many doctors who would give an invasive pelvic exam because the mother demanded it, with scant attention paid to either the symptoms or the patient’s opposition.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          So, here’s a question specifically for you, Doc, because I suspect you’ve already had all these discussions inside your own head over the year.

          Last year our son was having intense foot pain during lacrosse playoffs, and we were afraid that he might have a break or something and be doing long term damage.  He did not want to go to the doctor, because he was afraid the doctor would ground him.  We didn’t really give him a choice; we took him anyway.

          I have a feeling that this was somehow different than a forced OBGYN visit on a girl, but I can’t figure out if that’s just me, or it’s different with my kid, or it has to do with sexuality is implied in one and not the other, or what.  So I ask you, are they the same?Report

          • No, they are quite different.  It is one thing for you to pressure your son to seek medical care for his foot.  It is another thing entirely to force a young woman to allow someone to insert his/her hands and/or a medical instrument into her reproductive organs.  One involves appropriate parental coercion, and the other involves stripping a person of her dignity and violating her person.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      It’s all rape. Not all of it is prosecutable. If a woman doesn’t want it, she doesn’t want it.Report

  5. I would not have performed the exam on your friend’s daughter without her consent.  Do I think she was raped?  No.  Was she needlessly traumatized and humiliated by a medical provider’s clear misunderstanding of his/her ethical obligations and (almost certainly) medical consent laws?  You bet.  I will refrain from judging the mother, but am filled with contempt for the gynecologist.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      So really the sticking point is not that the mother may have dragged the girl to the OBGYN, but rather, that the OBGYN did a pelvic exam?

      What if, upon hearing the symptoms from the mother (I’m assuming the girl is being a stubborn teenager & not even cooperating in the conversation), the OBGYN feels that the girl does need a pelvic to rule out a condition?  What if the symptoms indicated an STD that required a pap to confirm?Report

      • If I had sufficient concern about the girl’s symptoms to think a pelvic exam might be warranted, I would:

        1) Kick the mother out of the room

        2)  Explain as patiently and sympathetically as I possibly could why I thought the exam was truly necessary, not as an agent of the mother but as a doctor who cared about the young woman’s health per se, and

        3)  Hope she consented.

        If the girl still refused, and it was one of the fleetingly rare circumstances where I was truly concerned that a life-threatening emergency was at hand (in which case the patient would almost certainly be too symptomatic to refuse an exam out of a sheer desire to spite her mother), then I would recommend a immediate trip to the emergency department where the patient could be sedated and examined.  But only if I thought the case was truly life-threatening.  If not, I would not do the exam without the patient’s consent.

        And almost all STDs can now be diagnosed without invasive procedures.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

          OK, fair enough (admittedly, as my handle implies, the art of medicine is not my forte, so I accept that most STDs can be diagnosed sans pelvic exam).Report

  6. Avatar Joe Carter says:

    In essence, they either get probed or they don’t get the abortion.

    How exactly are they doing the abortion if the woman objects to having medical instruments inserted into her reproductive organs?


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The wacky thing about consent, Mr. Carter, is that it magically changes things.

      Saying “but she was okay when that other guy put something into her!” is an argument that has, in fact, been used as justification for a lot of sexual assaults. It’s not a proud history. You shouldn’t be so quick to embrace it.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Saying “but she was okay when that other guy put something into her!” is an argument that has, in fact, been used as justification for a lot of sexual assaults.

        That’s not really the reason that it’s a bad argument.
        It’s the incongruity on holding both circumstances to be the same.
        The logical fallacy of the false equivalence.
        Regardless of what its use has been over the course of history.Report

    • Avatar Sam says:

      It is possible to consent to the one without consenting to the other. For example, you may have once consented to a prostate exam; I doubt that means you consent to every imaginable object being shoved up your ass.Report

    • Avatar Vertov says:

      Because the probe itself is not a necessary part of the abortion.

      To make an analogy,, its sort of like passing a law whereby people who receive liver transplants are forced to get invasive surgery so the patient can see the physical state of their current liver before the transplant, with the assumption being that the patients asking for the transplant were lifelong alcoholics.

      In other words, the law is forcing the patient to undergo more medical procedures than necessary in the belief that the patient made, and is making, a bad decision by asking for the medical procedure.




      • Avatar Will H. says:

        [T]he probe itself is not a necessary part of the abortion.

        That argument doesn’t carry a lot of weight.
        Inspections are not a necessary part of eating beef.

        Does the state have an interest in regulating the matter?
        Whose interest does it best serve by stripping down every medical procedure to the most basic bare-boned elements of its necessary parts?

        You ever have your teeth cleaned?
        Did you get the shot?Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          Sorry, but this should have been included in the previous comment.

          As noted elsewhere, this is the sort of thing that forms the basis for my conservative ideology.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          We inspect beef to make sure it doesn’t make us sick, not to try to prevent people from regretting their decision to eat beef.

          Moreover, some beef can be healthy while other, visibly indistinguishable beef is  tainted.  The consumer has no way of knowing which is which short of exhaustively compiling records of food illnesses experienced by customers of various butchers and deciding on the basis from where to purchase his meat.  The government in this setting performs a valuable public function in standardizing and centralizing such records, and in incentivizing meatsellers to be sure their product is safe.  (Beyond the feeing role, incidentally there is no reason a private entity couldn’t perform this function.)

          By contrast, information about what, in essence, an abortion is, is fully available to everyone in the public, and there is basically no variability between what this doctor would do and what the next would.  There really isn’t an information aggregation role to be played here.

          Above all, meat inspection does not importune the consumer.  if you find some tainted beef, you may eat it.  In order to sell you beef, a butcher must ensure it isn’t tainted, but this doesn’t have any incidental impact directly on your liberty, Will.  Only the butcher is importuned, but then, he is the one seeking to make a living in the butchering business. In contrast, this law requires that you as a consumer surrender your bodily autonomy in a way that is not necessary to either accomplish the procedure, or to do it safely, in order to gain access to what is currently construed to be a constitutional right (which eating beef is not currently construed to be!).  There is a greater restriction on the consumer (i.e. not the person in business seeking to perform a service for money, an act that is presumptively regulable ) of liberty here, and less interest in regulating it in this way (provision of this information is not necessary to perform the procedure safely, unlike ,eg., legitimate regulations that the physician maintain sanitary instruments).

          It’s your comparison that carries little weight.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Not at all.
            This is another form of false equivalence.
            And I see those on the Left make use of this quite often.
            The equivalence is that the analogy and the thing held in analogy are, in fact, identical.
            Analogies only go so far.

            The whole point is:
            Does the state have an interest in regulating the matter?
            Anything that has to do with beef, in particular, is secondary.

            You’re arguing to the secondary point in order to destroy the analogy.
            However, the analogy is easily removed.
            The primary point still stands.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              Merely because the state has an interest in regulating the matter does not mean that the regulation can take whatever form the state pleases, especially when basic rights are implicated in the process.  indeed in some cases, depending on the magnitude of the interst, the state may not be able to regulate at all if the state interest doesn’t overbalance the rights interest. So the particulars of the analogy do matter as to whether this regulation is justified.  In any case if your argument is simply a straightforward assertion that there is a state interest in a regulation of this kind, what does an analogy of any kind have to do with anything?  Yes, meat inspection happens because there is a (claim of a) state interest in the regulation.  Just like any regulation.  It’s your own problem that you brought up an example that illustrates the relatively modest state interest here, and the much greater infringement on individual liberty, and did some good work for your opponents in the argument in the process.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                No, I believe the analogy was a good one, in that its purpose was restated immediately following.

                when basic rights are implicated in the process… depending on the magnitude of the interst, the state may not be able to regulate
                I will accept this as the basis of your argument.

                It’s already regulated.

                I don’t believe the case is adequate to say that the procedure is solely to intimidate or humiliate women.
                The ultrasound will be done within two hours of the abortion.
                I think it’s probably a good thing that they look things over before they go digging around.
                It could well be that potential issues or defects could be discovered at that time; perhaps patients that would experience excessive bleeding or that have some manner of previously unknown pre-existing condition that would place them in an at risk group.
                It might even save lives.Report

              • Avatar Sam says:

                “I think it’s probably a good thing that they look things over before they go digging around.” Is that the specifically applicable scientific term or are you free-styling here?

                Is anybody proposing, incidentally, that this ultrasound is designed to discover potential issues, defects, excessive bleeding (how would that work with an ultrasound?), or other pre-existing conditions? Are you seriously arguing that the people proposing this ultrasound are doing so out of concern for the mother?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I remember when my gf went in to have her “procedure.”
                She had an ultrasound done, and it was 24 hours beforehand. Had to go back the next day for the “procedure.”
                That wasn’t the part she described as “dehumanizing.”
                It was what she said was the “assembly line” aspect of it that she found “dehumanizing.”Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:


                you are not a doctor. people who are doctors don’t require this for a chemical abortion. aka no digging around in there.

                please try again, with facts.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                The procedure is one thing if it is necessary to complete the larger procedure safely.  I have no idea whether it is or isn’t; I think you’ve made abundantly clear you don’t either, and more to the point I don’t believe the Virginia law finds it to be or has its basis in a conclusion that it is, but if you can point me to where it does, then by all means do so.  It’s an entirely different matter what images the patient must be shown in order to receive an abortion, and what the state interest in requiring that is necessary for that reason.  The Virginia legislature obviously has all the standing necessary to make these determinations for that commonwealth subject to judicial review, but of course if such determinations are made as pretexts for other aims, we are entirely well placed to judge them and the legitimacy of their disingenuously-claimed state interests, or the (in our opinion, and who can say but perhaps one day a court’s) insufficiency of their earnestly claimed interests. (And I believe it is the latter; i.e. I believe you simply are mistaken about whether the Virginia delegates even claim a state interest in these requirements with regard to the safety of the procedure, whereas I believe your previous suggestions that the interest being claimed is in legislating the meaning of informed consent is more accurate to the actual claimed interest, though still in my view insufficient given the liberty interest of the patient, especially if penetrating her with this instrument would not otherwise be done in the course of an abortion).Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Show me where these ultrasounds have any manner of effect on the number of abortions being done and comparative data.

                If doctors were infallible, there would be no need for malpractice attorneys.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I made no claim about the a connection to the number of abortions.

                Indeed, this is precisely what we have malpractice attorneys for – exactly as it is what we have them for in promoting safety in the tens of thousands of medical procedures whose specifics are not written in to state law.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                …The woman has the option to decline to view the images.  This is my error of background research, and a significant one.

                The issue then is whether this procedure is a standard part of the abortion and/or necessary to ensure the safety of the procedure, or important enough to the safety of the procedure to justify its being encoded into regulations governing medical practice in Virginia (if that is the claim the state is making as to the legitimate interest it is pursuing in intervening in physicians’ practice and patients’ decisions in this way, which as I say, I don’t understand the delegates here to be), or whether it is necessary to provide a sufficient degree of informed consent that the woman must see the images of her own child, rather than, for example, stock images from similar points in pregnancies that would convey an entirely similar information and likely be functionally indistinguishable to her from the images culled from her own uterus.

                An even more vexing question might be how, if the woman has the option of declining to see these images, then if that degree of specific knowledge is necessary for her to give informed consent – ie. that she see the images of her own body gained produced by the procedure – how does this law esnure she is thusly informed when she constents to receiving the abortion procedure?  if she can decline to view the images and still obtain the abortion, and thus if the Virginia delegates deem her sufficiently informed to consent in an informed way even if she does not view the images, then how does a need for her to be informed in order to consent still justify the requirement that she submit to the procedure necessary to obtain the images?  Why isn’t the requirement that she merely be offered the opportunity to undergo the procedure that would produce images sufficient to satisfy the state interest in ensuring informed consent if the interest doesn’t extend to actually ensuring she review the images?  What state interest in ensuring informed consent is furthered by requiring her to undergo the procedure if the law does not require her to view the images?  The only conceivable state interest that this law satisfies in the area of informed consent is in guaranteeing her access to this information (i.e. increasing her options), but this would be equally satisfied by a requirement that she be offered (perhaps multiple times, before and at the conclusion of a waiting period) the opportunity to undergo this procedure in order to see the images it can produce of the fetus she is carrying. Requiring that she undergo the procedure without requiring that she view the images doesn’t ensure the woman is any more informed than she would be if she retained the freedom to choose not to undergo the procedure.

                And so the question would again become whether there is a medical reason for the state to find an interest in requiring the procedure, and then whether, if they were to cite such an interest to justify the requirement, whether they would be ingenuously stating the state interest they are actually pursuing in instituting the requirement.


              • Avatar Sam says:

                The fact that she can decline to see the image gives the game away. It isn’t about the image. It is about the act of forcing a woman to experience a transvaginal ultrasound.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I asked elsewhere about this and am glad to see an answer.

                Even if they were required to see it, what would they say to a blind woman?  Would they make a clay model of the fetus for her to hold?  Or would a blind woman be barred from seeking an abortion?  It is clear that informed consent is NOT a true rationale for this law since no information is gained by a woman who opts not to view the images.  Well, outside of knowing what it feels like to have a probe shoved into you…Report

              • Avatar Just John says:

                Wow.  That does make it even worse.  “Ritual Humiliation” is literally correct, and the term rape becomes even more appropriate.Report

        • Avatar Katherine says:

          That argument doesn’t carry a lot of weight.
          Inspections are not a necessary part of eating beef.

          Not a great analogy.  A more accurate one would be if people were required to watch footage of what occurs in a factory farm or slaughterhouse prior to buying beef, in order to inform their decision and acquaint them with the moral aspects of it.

          Of course, that’s far from a perfect analogy, because (to my mind) preserving human life (and a fetus is a human life – it’s certainly not any other animal) is a matter of greater urgency than preventing animal cruelty, and making someone watch a video is far less invasive than requiring a vaginal exam.  But at least the comparison of why you are taking the action – not to protect the health of the actor, but to protect an affected third party – would be more accurate.Report

  7. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    mcMEgan, cowen, et. al. proved what many already suspected:  coercion is OK as long as it results in furthering conservative ideology.Report

  8. Avatar Joe Carter says:

    The wacky thing about consent, Mr. Carter, is that it magically changes things.

    Indeed, but this isn’t really a question of consent, is it? The woman is giving consent to have medican instruments inserted inside her. So the issue is not a matter of rape/nonrape but about agreeing to what type of procedures she is willing to have.

    Imagine that the law required a doctor to insert a surgical swab to test for STDs before performing an abortion. If the woman refuses to give consent, then she could not get the other procedure (the abortion). Would we really buy the argument that she was being raped in order to get an abortion?

    The rape claim is absurd and undercuts the seriousness of the issue. Whether it is proper to require an ultrasound before an abortion is a legitimate question. Acting as if it is a violation of a woman’s integrity to have the procedure done in order to get another procedure done—and calling it rape—is beyond bizarre.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      “Indeed, but this isn’t really a question of consent, is it?”

      It seems to me that it very much is.

      If I consent on Tuesday to X but decide, you know what, Wednesday is not a good X day for me… you don’t get to provide X saying “you were cool with it on Tuesday!”

      This has a long history.

      You shouldn’t be so quick to embrace it.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        For the record, I’m going to abstain from this discussion, because frankly some of the responses piss me off to the extent that makes civility impossible.

        But I will say this.

        No gentleman should ever presume to speak for what does and does not constitute what a lady regards as consent.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          No gentleman should ever presume to speak for what does and does not constitute what a lady regards as consent.


          • Avatar Joe Carter says:

            Can we please drop the “consent’ canard? The situation is:

            (1) If a woman want to undergo Procedure B, should must give her consent to Procedure B.
            (2) If the woman wants to undergo Procedure B, should must also give her consent to Procedure A.

            No one—absolutely no one—is saying that woman should be held down and forced to have an ultrasound against her will. Refusing to give consent to (2) is not rape. If the law says that in order to get Procedure B, you must also get Procedure A, then that is merely one of the many lists of requirements for that procedure. Whether the requirement should be in place is completely separate from this grotesque argument about “rape.”

            Let’s be honest, the reason the Left is freaking out about this law is because the more ultrasounds are being used the less likely people are to accept the legality of abortion. If the ultrasounds were unlikely to change anyone’s opinion, this would not be an issue.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Canard? CANARD???

              Do you understand why your church should not be “forced” to perform same-sex marriages, Mr. Carter, even if they perform them every other weekend for people likely to get divorced fewer than seven years later?

              Do you understand why your church should not be “forced” to provide norplant to women who could purchase it on their own with their own funds?

              If you do, then you understand that “consent” is *NOT*, in fact, something groundless, unfounded, or fabricated.Report

              • Avatar Joe Carter says:

                Yes, in this situation it is a “canard.”

                Abortion is almost always an elective medical procedure. There are probably hundreds of requirements that a woman must give her “consent” to in order to have the procedure. If she refuses any one of them she be denied the procedure.

                And I don’t understand you analogies at all. No one is being “forced” to have the ultrasound. It is legal requirement—like all the others involved—that must be consented to in order to have the procedure.


              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And your churches provide marriages and medical insurance every freakin’ day!!!

                The fact that there are those who see no difference between “marriage” and “same-sex marriage” when it comes to forcing your church to start providing services is analogous to your blindness here.

                Consent is the *FOUNDATION* of morality.Report

              • Avatar Joe Carter says:

                Consent is the *FOUNDATION* of morality.

                Um, no, actually it’s not. But that’s an argument for another day.

                You still seem to be missing the point. Any woman who is seeking an abortion in VA has to give her consent for the procedure. Now, to ensure that she is truly giving informed consent, she is required to undergo an ultrasound.

                I’m trying to help you move off shaky ground. You can’t use the “consent” canard to argue about a law whose purpose is to ensure that the woman is fully and legally aware of what she is giving consent to (i.e., the killing of a human being).

                There are legitimate reasons for opposing this law. Consent isn’t one of them. It merely shows that you really don’t understand what you are arguing for, other than unrestricted access to abortion.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My foundations involve such things as assumptions of a right to privacy and a right to, for lack of a better word, integrity.

                This allows for such things as privacy between a woman and her doctor as well as a between a church and whatever silly assumptions it retains from Leviticus as still applying.

                If you’d like me to say that I shouldn’t use *THESE* assumptions but the ones that you have, I’d like to point out that *THOSE* assumptions over there are far, far more attractive than the ones you’re holding up.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                You can’t use the “consent” canard to argue about a law whose purpose is to ensure that the woman is fully and legally aware of what she is giving consent to

                There’s a really grotesque, really perverse, irony in Mr. Carter’s claim here, because it is the state’s claim that the ultrasound is necessary in order to give truly informed consent that is the “canard.”

                I best leave this debate now, though.  Like Mr. Akimoto, it’s hard to remain civil in response to comments like Mr. Carter’s.  I have three daughters, and I’ll thank Mr. Carter and his ilk to not try to speak for them, or to try to decide for them when they have enough information to make an informed decision.  They can do that quite well without his help or the help of the Virginia state legislature.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

                Imagine you are in the hospital, dying.  You are uncomfortable with the idea of allowing doctors to harvest your organs (for whatever reason).  The hospital staff comes in and says, “Mr. Carter, we’ve identified a young child who is in great need of a heart.  Yours is a match.  We’d we like permission to harvest your viable organs upon your death, but you’ve never signed your drivers license given donor organ consent.  Now, before you give us the final “No” on harvesting your organs, we are going to bring the little girl in here so you can spend 15 minutes talking to her before you tell her she cant have your heart and she will have to keep waiting & risk death).”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Mr. Carter,

                Many, if not most, people think “coerced consent” isn’t really true consent.

                Ditto what Mr. Akimoto said about men not speaking for women, but I will say that as the father of three daughters, I object not only to this bill but the casual acceptance of it among people like you.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                “Coercion” is allowable.
                “Corrupt coercion” is disallowed.
                What exactly is “corrupt” is a matter open to debate.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Let’s be honest, the reason the Left is freaking out about this law is because the more ultrasounds are being used the less likely people are to accept the legality of abortion. If the ultrasounds were unlikely to change anyone’s opinion, this would not be an issue.

              By saying this, are you admitting that there isn’t a medically justified purpose for the procedure? That the purpose in proposing and legislating it is for strictly political purposes – to make people ‘less likely to accept the legality of abortion’?

              If so, then the consent issue JB brought up is very much in play, on both the personal as well as political/governmental levels.Report

              • Avatar Joe Carter says:

                By saying this, are you admitting that there isn’t a medically justified purpose for the procedure?

                That’s right. The addition of the requirement is not inherently medically justified. But abortion is rarely (never?) medically justified, so it seems rather odd to complain about adding non-medically justified requirements to a non-medically justified procedure.

                That the purpose in proposing and legislating it is for strictly political purposes – to make people ‘less likely to accept the legality of abortion’?

                The reason for opposing the requirement is also strictly political. There is no medical reason why it should not be added as a requirement.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                The reason for opposing the requirement is also strictly political. There is no medical reason why it should not be added as a requirement.

                Wrong.  The multiplication of unnecessary medical procedures is itself inherently problematic, and doubly so when those extra medical procedures are invasive.  There is in fact a medical reason why this should not be a requirement.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The reason for opposing the requirement is also strictly political.

                Not true. There are lots of arguments opposing it: rights-based, consent-based, limited-government-based. In addition to those, there may be political reasons for opposing it, but only because the justification for the requirement is – as you admitted – purely political.

                There is no medical reason why it should not be added as a requirement.

                Not true. The medical reason it shouldn’t be added is because it’s medically unnecessary.


              • Avatar Jeff says:

                But abortion is rarely (never?) medically justified

                BZZZZT!!!  You’ve just put yourself out of the discussion — abortion is OFTEN medically necessary (at least 90% of late-term abortions are medically necessary).  If you think otherwise, you’re either ignorant of the facts or don’t care.

                This is me being nice — you and Mr VanDyke clearly are pushing the boundaries of this blog.Report

              • Avatar sonmi451 says:

                That’s right. The addition of the requirement is not inherently medically justified.

                Well finally, a conservative who will admit it up front. Nothing else needs to be said, right? And a fairly well-known conservative blogger at that.


            • Avatar North says:

              Speaking for myself specifically and the left in general Joe I can say with absolute certainty that the left would object to this abominable law even if it increased public support for the legality of abortion. They and I would oppose it even if it magically turned every woman who heard about the policy into a flaming liberal.


              • Avatar North says:

                That being said I would note that I also don’t think it’s rape. Disparate impact or undue burden or sexual harassment definitly but rape? No. Grunting paternal heavy handed authoritarianism; absolutely?Report

            • Avatar Sam says:


              Do you believe that the state should be mandating medical procedures? Do you believe that women should be forced to undergo unnecessary medical procedures before procuring entirely legal medical procedures? Would you be willing to accept state meddling in your medical procedures?Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                it is weird to read so many pro-coercion arguments lately in libertarian circles.  first principles, indeed.Report

              • Avatar Plinko says:

                I’m 99% sure Joe Carter would not describe himself as a libertarian, nor would anyone here confuse him for one.Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                fair enough.  as long as he is the hero of the 1993 world series.  wait, he’s not that either?Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                did you get assigned to me as my LOOG guide?  if so, thanks.  if not, double thanks.Report

              • Avatar Plinko says:

                I just have a nasty compulsion to leap at asides in comment threads around here. You just happened to luck out twice today.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                You’ve yet to point to a libertarian pro-coercion argument.  But leaping to assumptions is probably a good form of exercise.Report

              • Avatar joey jo jo says:

                above i did.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                I believe he was referring to this tweet from Tyler Cowen.


              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Cowen’s tweet was a bit dumb (I say that as someone with great respect for Cowen), but it’s not a libertarian pro-coercion argument.  It’s a (very poorly thought out) slam against liberals who usually support extra information for consumers.

                I stand by my claim. Joeyjojo has not provided any examples.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus says:

                Do I believe that the state should mandate vaccinations? Yes. Blood typing and cross-matching before surgeries? Yes. Emergency room treatment for any child with a broken leg? Yes.

                (Your second question used the word “unnecessary,” so I have no cute answer.)

                Do I think that the state should be “meddling” in medical procedures? Absolutely. I want the physician licensed and regularly tested. And I do not trust the physician, or the AMA, as much as I trust to state to make those things happen properly.

                Who do you trust?Report

            • Your money or your life, Mr. Carter


              You gave me your money!  Clearly, you consented to it, and therefore my act is not theft.Report

      • Avatar Katherine says:

        THANK YOU.

        If all men (and women!) thought like you and Tod, the world would be a lovely place.

        The quote in the article (“[those women] had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy” ) creeps me out more than anything I’ve read recently.  It’s always a shock to realize that people can still say things like it in this day and age and get anything but universal condemnation in response.

        (Also – very frustrating to have people like that making the pro-life movement look bad.  They’re not making it any easier to argue against contentions that a pro-life stance is purely about controlling female sexuality rather than about valuing life.)


    • Avatar Karin Y says:

      I have had a number of transvaginal ultrasounds.  Being forced to insert the probe and have a technician wiggle it around without my consent – that would qualify as rape.  It is extremely different in feel from a pap smear or other examination.  While I did not find it painful, I know some women do.

      For no other medical procedure has the technician handed me the probe to insert and politely looked away or left the room.

      There are clear definitions of rape which include “penetrating with an object or forcing a person to penetrate herself/himself with an object”.  I am not finding that reference for VA.

      But to be clear for those who lack anatomy or experience, this isn’t like having your ear swabbed.

      To have it forced by legislature that decides that women “just don’t understand that an embryo/fetus would grow to a baby” is appalling.

      Describing something as a medical procedure does not change it from being non-consensual.

      Calling it rape is an accurate description of what is involved – non-consensual penetration of a woman’s vagina with an object that serves no medical purpose for that woman.

      There is a vast difference between a normal ultrasound which is done on the abdomen and a transvaginal ultrasound.  If you are not clear on the procedure, then read about it.

      This proposed law is saying 4 things:

      a) Women just don’t understand that embryos/fetuses would grow into a human baby – and an abortion would stop that.

      b) Doctor’s just don’t know what is medically necessary for a safe abortion.

      c) Women must give up physical privacy and control and be non-consensually penetrated for no necessary medical reason – in order to make a legal choice to preserve their lives and autonomy.

      d) Impose large (these aren’t cheap!) extra charges on the women seeking abortions.

      Personally, I find your statement that calling this rape is beyond bizarre indicates an astounding lack of understanding about both the procedure and definitions of rape.




  9. Avatar Vertov says:

    … so if its not rape (and I agree it isn’t, not in the legal sense), but it is an unseemly violation of privacy involving genitalia, what do you call it? Something that conveys the grossness of the act without calling it rape.

    Do we have a good word or term for this?Report

  10. Avatar kenB says:

    I think Joe makes a good point.  It’s not “you must have this procedure done”, it’s “if you want an abortion, you must have this procedure done first”.  So if you’re determined to find an analogue, a closer one would be sexual harassment — “if you want that promotion, you have to have sex with me first”.Report

  11. Avatar alkali says:

    Whether or not the Virginia ultrasound requirement is actual rape or simply analogous-to-rape, I’m not sure what TK’s concern is here.  It’s surely true that it’s a bad idea to throw the word “rape” around casually:  if you object to, say, raising the meals tax from 7.5% to 8.25% on the ground that that increase would be “rape,” then you’re an insensitive clod and you’re debasing the language.  On the other hand, telling women that they cannot have a critically important medical procedure performed unless they let first someone stick a probe in their vagina sounds exactly like rape-by-coercion to me — and if it’s not technically rape, then it’s close enough to warrant using that term by analogy.

    To be sure, there are going to be a few cases of involuntary-vagina-touching that we are going to carve out of our definitions of “rape” or “sexual assault”:  the contretemps between TK’s friend and her near-adult daughter is one example; there are probably other cases involving adults that lack mental capacity that need medical treatment.  But those are exceptions to the actual general rule that yes, touching and manipulating another person’s genitals without their consent is a form of sexual assault.Report

  12. Avatar Will H. says:

    Coercion is not rape.
    Rape is forcible, or with threat of force.
    Physical confinement would be force.
    Words are not.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      That’s not the case, according to the FBI and moral sense.  Sex without consent is rape, even if no force is used (for instance, if the victim is unconscious).Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Successful coercion concludes with consent.
        Unsuccessful coercion is that coercion which does not lead to consent.
        It is the efficacy of the coercion which is at issue.
        This is determined by its result.Report

        • Avatar Dan Miller says:

          I’m not quite sure I follow, but my point at least was semi-tangential to the discussion in the OP.Report

        • Avatar karl says:

          What the hell does that mean? (I’m probably the dumbest guy on this thread at the moment, but my heart is large — I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you actually meant something there.)Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            “I’m probably the dumbest guy on this thread at the moment, but my heart is large”

            great commentReport

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            It means that all coercive efforts that are successful in nature end in consent.
            If I offer you ten bucks an hour to go to work for me, cooking muffins or whatever, and you tell me to get bent, so I offer you twelve and you take it– I’m not offering you fifteen after that. You’ve been got.
            If I offer you ten bucks to bake a batch of muffins, you say, “Get bent, Will H.! I would rather roast in a lake of fire than to bake a batch of muffins for the likes of you!” then I offer you twelve, fifteen, and twenty, but you still refuse, then you remain open to further coercive efforts.
            My coercion is unsuccessful when you refuse to bake muffins for me.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              so I offer you twelve and you take it

              Your argument is based on an odd interpretation of the word “coercion.”

              If you offer me $10 and I say “get bent,” I’m saying, “nah, it’s not worthwhile; my opportunity cost is higher than that.”  If you then offer me $12 and I take it, I’m saying, “Cool, my opportunity cost was less than $12, so I’m better off taking your money and cooking your muffins.”

              That’s not coercion, though.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                That is coercion.
                Basically stated, any external force applied by the will of another directed toward engaging a desired effect on the internal will.
                Just because you hear Randians say, “At the barrel of a gun,” all the time doesn’t mean that’s the only form of coercion imaginable.

                And it’s not just men that do it to women.
                Classic case in point:
                Woman: Do you want half of this donut?
                Man: Sure.

                Now the woman has acquired company.
                No, the man doesn’t want half the donut. He wants the whole damn thing, and then half of the box it came from. And he can’t figure out for the life of him why anyone would eat half a donut. It will never make sense.
                For eating half a donut to make sense, you must be a woman.

                Now, you could jump up and down and say, “That’s extortion!”
                The woman has clearly bribed the man into a desired behavior.
                And fairly cheap too.
                Men are easy like that.
                When it comes to women, at any rate.

                Coercion takes many forms.
                Have you ever combed your hair to make yourself look nice for your wife?
                Or to make sure that she wasn’t embarrassed to be seen in public with you?
                That’s coercion.

                People do it all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with it, in most cases.
                It can be wrong.
                It’s that mens rea thing.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Will, if you think offering  value-for-value is coercion just because it fits into your own idiosyncratic definition, then bully for you.  The only problem is that such a definition and usage disables you from engaging in intelligent debate with just about everyone, because nobody’s going to waste their time debating the issue on suck obviously non-sensical terms.

                Because all humans stand outside each other, all human interactions constitute outside forces arrayed against each other, so by your definition every single human interaction is coercive. So when I offered to buy my friend lunch last week and he agreed, I had successfully coerced him. When he made a request that I pick up his tickets for the hockey tournament because he won’t be on campus this week, but he’ll buy me a beer before the game, and I agreed, he successfully coerced me.

                That’s an astoundingly useless definition.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                You’re missing something here. Maybe I didn’t explain it well. It’s actually a definition of coercion from the United States Code.

                [E]very single human interaction is coercive.

                Not so fast there, buddy.
                People are often in agreement.

                Coercion includes persuasion, influence, enticement, bribery, and probably others I can’t think of right off the top of my head. I’m sure the U.S.C. mentions more than that.
                Some of those acts mentioned are more general while others are very specific.
                Coercion is the broad umbrella which covers them all.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Not so fast there, buddy.
                People are often in agreement.

                Yes. If you offer me $12 in exchange for cooking you brownies, and I accept, we are in agreement.

                It’s actually a definition of coercion from the United States Code.

                Link, please.  I don’t feel like doing your homework for you when it involves searching the U.S. Code.  (At a quick glance, I found lots of sections that ban coercion, but not one that defines it, so you made the claim, you support it.)Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Off the top of my head, I can tell you that in section 1515 of Title 18, there is a definition for “corruptly” as applied in the chapter.
                I believe “coercion” is defined in the caselaw concerning section 1512.
                I’ll see what I can find, but I’m not going to make it a priority.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                You made the claim, so you should make it a priority if you expect anyone to believe you.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                You got me, Hanley.
                Coercion is not the umbrella term, though not all coercion is corrupt.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                not all coercion is corrupt.

                Agreed; there is a difference between what I call (for lack of better terminology) initiative coercion and responsive coercion.  The initiation of coercion is not quite, but nearly always wrong.  Response coercion, reacting to someone else’s initiation of coercion, is right or wrong dependent only on its proportionality.Report

    • Avatar Sam says:

      Good point. The priests weren’t raping those kids after all. They’d consented after being told that they were going to hell.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        There’s a post around here somewhere that’s all about coercion…Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Are you sure that there was consent?
        If there was, are you sure that you understand why that consent was given?

        Loaded language is nothing more than a rhetorical device, and not a very good one.
        aka an appeal to emotion, or argumentum invidium.

        It pretty much means that you’ve run out of reasoned arguments when people resort to that.
        So please stop.
        Take some time and gather your thoughts.

        I can wait.Report

        • Avatar Sam says:


          Am I sure that there is what seems like consent in situations of the sexual abuse of children? Yes, I positively am. We can get into the reasons if you’d like (three years spent as a front-line social worker working with, amongst others, juvenile sexual offenders). We think of sexual predation as rape; it sometimes is. But it is often the gaining of consent through various means. One of the ones often discussed when it came to priests was a kind of religious pressure applied to victims, either before the act (as in, “God approves…”) or after the act (as in “Do not tell on me because of….”).


          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Then you are familiar with the concept of informed consent, and of the reasons why statutory rape is prohibited.
            Which goes back to my point above concerning “corrupt coercion.”
            Rohypnol is corrupt coercion, because there is no informed consent.

            If I put a paper on a desk in front of you and said, “Just sign here. Don’t worry about what it says. Just sign it,” while holding my hand above the place where your signature was to go so that you couldn’t see it, would that document be binding?
            It depends on what it was for.
            It might not even matter if it was.
            Still the consent was not an informed consent.
            There are quite a number of things where there is no clear consent without being adequately informed.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      This has got to be the oddest definition of rape that I’ve heard.

      A woman forcibly confined and felt up, until she’s physically ready — that’s rape?

      It’s not rape for a guy to keep whining until a woman ceases to stop him? Even if that includes sleep deprivation?

      When your priest tells you what he wants, and you go along with it, because you don’t wanna go to hell… that’s not rape, because its words?Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        That’s nice.
        See immediately above referencing emotional appeals.

        For the record, confinement is physical force.
        But I don’t think the doctor is supposed to be feeling up his patient until she’s ready for it.
        Maybe I’m wrong here.
        I’m not a doctor.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          wasn’t referencing doctors.

          WAS referencing actual cases of abuse/rape/etc. You can either deal with actual cases on an emotional issue, or you can accuse me of unfairly appealing to emotion.

          When you’re ready to return to the discussion, I’ll be waiting.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Confinement is physical force. That’s rape.

            The whining guy, that’s not rape. Why is she with that guy that’s so whiny in the first place? If he feels so comfortable in being inconsiderate when she’s trying to sleep, I’m sure that expresses itself in other ways as well.
            But there’s no rape. She has a choice to remain there or not to.

            The priest isn’t rape for similar reasons. She’s free to tell him to get bent, report it to his superior, go to a different church, etc.
            Not rape.

            If it just that, “The guy I’m with is a weasel, or is creepy,” that doesn’t make it rape.
            That means she’s putting out for a guy that’s a weasel or creepy instead of playing the field.

            Seriously, if you believe any or at all that a woman has a right to her own body, then she should be able to take to walking when the time looks right.
            Why are these women not exercising their inherent right of self-determination, etc.?Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              Stop being such a goddamn liberal.

              It is quite possible for a woman who is non-consenting to be literally unable to speak — and sometimes unable to move. It’s still fucking rape — and all the more so if a man has deliberately gotten her into such a state.

              This is what some guys mean by “getting lucky”

              My specifically cited example about whiny boy is a form of psychological torture outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. Thanks for playing.Report

  13. Avatar Ali says:

    I’ve had an ultrasound -to determine whether I was miscarrying or not.

    It HURTS.  The male doc dug around with the tip of it to check both ovaries for ectopic pregnancy and the whole thing took 10 minutes.  It is not sex, not fun and was medically neccesary.

    And yes, the embryo was dead.

    So I know just how intrusive those things are.Report

  14. Avatar LauraNo says:

    I had to have a vaginal ultrasound when the hospital was trying to determine if I needed an appendectomy. They sent the male nurse out of the room, even though I said I was okay with him being there. I have to tell you, it is very like someone putting a foreign object that looks very like a dildo into your vagina, then moving it about. In my case it took over an hour for them to decide I had a burst appendix. (Which I didn’t, long story). Some women being shier than I, maybe not having had children or been to a gynecologist before would be very traumatized by the procedure. Calling it rape maybe goes too far, but saying it doesn’t matter because she once had an actual penis up in there goes too far the other way. And perhaps she was raped in that instance on top of it!Report

  15. Avatar A Teacher says:

    What’s more, even though I try to be a “benefit of the doubt” kind of guy, I have a hard time believing that the backers of this bill would ever be willing to back a bill that looked to punish the male in this scenario for experiencing his sexuality.

    Would the bill be more palatable if it required a court officer (police, volunteer, friend of the court, etc) to certify that the stated father of the baby/fetus/zygote/unborn was delievered a copy of the ultrasound images?  Perhaps with the additional note “You could have been a father but that’s not going to happen now.”?

    Perhaps I have no seat anywhere in the room let alone at the table of discussion, having been in the position of being told, “I don’t care what you think or that it would be yours; if I’m pregnant I’m ending it.”  Perhaps I make too much of that emotional distress of preparing to do the right thing by the woman I was with and the baby I (may have) sired only to be told that I had no recourse but to let her do what she will.  As it were, I was told it was all a false alarm.

    Or perhaps it wasn’t and I was simply told that as telling me anything else would have damaged our relationship beyond repair and perhaps ignorance of the truth was the only path to bliss.Report

    • Avatar sonmi451 says:

      If a man thinks that sort of thing is a relationship-ender (his girlfriend insisting on making the decision whether to continue a pregnancy or not all by herself), then he should just end the relationship. I don’t see why that should spill over to the realm of public policy or state laws.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I am sorry you were wronged.
      I think it’s important that you understand that the wrong came before this event; the event itself was only an expression of that wrong.

      That is exactly one of my concerns with the whole public policy debate.

      My experience is notably different.
      Once there was a woman that I was crazy about, and she got pregnant. She was on medication at the time, and there was a very high possibility of birth defects in the child. We talked about it, and she told me that she wouldn’t be able to do without her medication long enough to carry the baby to term. For me, there was no choice to it after hearing that. She had an abortion.
      I had to hold her while she cried afterward, all day. “Where’s my baby? What did they do to my baby?” Over and over again.
      And then the post-partum depression.

      But it didn’t really change my ideas on abortion.
      Rather, it reinforced those ideas.
      Yes, it should be available. And yes, people should have to pay for it when it is needed. But no, it should never be the first choice. And I see no wrong in the involuntary sterilization of someone that goes in for their second or third.

      But I do understand that a man has rights to a child which is his.
      I see no reason that the man should have no interest in the child in that time before it is born.

      Again, I am deeply sorry that you were wronged, and in such an intimate way.Report

      • Avatar sonmi451 says:

        Strong words, he was wronged. So who wronged him? His girlfriend? Should she have continued a pregnancy against her own will in order not to “wrong” her boyfriend?Report

        • Avatar Sam says:

          “Rights to a child which is his.” That’s a telling construction.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If they use the same words when it comes to “paternity”, it is less telling a construction.

            (We can also discuss whether the arguments for men who wish to avoid paternity suits have more than a little overlap with the “bottle of aspirin between the knees” argument.)Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I was thinking of custody and visitation in instances of divorce.
            I hope that’s what you were thinking of when you wrote that bit about “a telling construction.”Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          Kimmi answered that below better than I probably would have.
          It is the betrayal of one being totally committed to the relationship and the other being committed only up to a point; the expectations of an understanding, only to discover the relationship was built on understandings which were false and expectations which were illusory.
          Do you get it now?
          He was suckered into believing one thing, and then another came to occur.
          Maybe she felt the same way at first, and then things changed without her bothering to inform her.
          This goes back to the “informed consent” discussion above.
          His participation in the relationship was extorted from him under false pretense.
          I don’t know how many different ways I can say it, but I don’t think it matters.
          Because really, most people already know right from wrong by the time they’re about 5 years old or so.
          And if you can’t see what’s wrong in this, explaining it probably isn’t going to be very fruitful.Report

          • Avatar sonmi451 says:

            His participation in the relationship was extorted from him under false pretense.

            Wait, did the girlfriend promise and pinky swear that she will absolutely have his beautiful, beautiful babies and would never ever consider abortion if he agrees to “participate in a relationship” with her? You’re using mighty strong words here, “extorted under false pretense”. So now he’s “extorted” into being her boyfriend? Did she promise her fertile womb to “extort” him? Sheesh, this is getting ridiculous. I like you better when you were commenting in short haiku-like sentences and I had no clue what you’re actually saying. At least that sounded profound.Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              I might remind you that when you rob another of their humanity, you do so to yourself as well.

              This is a real person we’re talking about here.
              His own state of trauma should not be brushed aside in flippant disregard.
              And from my own perspective, to do so for the sake of some theoretical persons that may take place in the future is unseemly.Report

          • Avatar sonmi451 says:

            And commitment doesn’t automatically mean the agreement to have children together. If your only reason to be with a woman is you want her to have your babies, maybe you should take a second look at the relationship.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            This is really dumb.

            Did he sit down and ask her, at any point in time? not that I’ve heard.

            He ought to take just as much responsibility (and Shame!) for not having gotten the ground rules down.

            Geez Louise!

            To top it all off, the societal expectation is that men are NOT going to want to care for/keep the child. Deadbeat Dads, etc.

            If two people who aren’t talking have different expectations, aren’t they both extorting the other?

            In which case, which sounds WORSE?

            A man exploiting a woman to turn her into his 9-month baby carrier?

            Or — a woman exploiting a man for a good time that won’t turn into a baby?


            • Avatar A Teacher says:

              To be totally honest there never were discussions about “what if the birth control fails?”  I took for granted that I would do “the right thing” and start a life of some kind with her and the baby.  Anything else seemed outside the realm of the possible.

              Not every ex-girlfriend was wife material, but I tried to keep the ideal of “if the birth control fails, are you ready to what a man does?”  Of course at the ripe old age of 19, who really thinks to have those kinds of conversations and negotiations?

              That said, the initial question is mostly rhetorical, which is what about shaming the “Father”?  It takes two to tango, one must wonder why no one seems willing to go after them as well….


              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                See, my perspective is: by using birth control, you’re implying that you don’t wanna baby.  She’s perfectly within her rights to consider that your statement on “what to do about an unborn child.”

                Teach, I’m just as good going after her. She ought to have had the discussion with you as well. Shame on both of you! But you’ve learned, and so there is hope.

                (now if only all your pupils would learn, eh?)

                And I’m sorry you went through a bit of a personal hell because of a stupid decision. It sucks.


              • Avatar Will H. says:

                That woman had no respect for you; and no matter how much you cared about her, you’re better off without her.
                I hope you realize that.
                And I mean on an understanding, emotional level, and not merely as an intellectual one.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      In a more rational world, concepts like these come up before you have sex with someone. And with the understanding that “should things change, you’re gonna tell me before we have sex again…”

      To give some unsolicited advice, I suggest you try establishing ground rules First. It’ll save money/time/anguish later.Report

  16. Avatar FridayNext says:

    I don’t think this is rape (I am more comfortable with sexual assault).

    I would like to point out that a female state legislator tried to attach an amendment to this bill that would have required a prostate/rectal exam and cardiac stress before doctors could proscribe Viagra or other erectile disfunction medications. They can stress the heart after all and men should know this before they endanger their tickers. Informed consent and all.

    The amendment failed of course. Does that surprise anyone?Report

    • Avatar Just John says:

      One irony of that is that the findings of a prostate/rectal exam and cardiac stress test could actually bear on the advisability of the particular patient taking Viagra.  The transvaginal ultrasound findings actually have no bearing on the risks of the procedure.Report

      • Avatar FridayNext says:

        A previous version of this comment mentioned that the prostate exam was more medically necessary than the ultrasound, but not being a doctor nor never having played one on tv, I didn’t feel confident claiming that.

        Since you bring it up though…Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          Funny you bring this up.  When I was writing this post, I was reminded of the controversy a year or two back when conservatives were claiming that contraception was voluntary healthcare for voluntary activities and therefore should not be covered by healthcare, but Viagra wasn’t and should.  There was no real place to put it in my OP, so I am glad the subject of Viagra came up.  (No pun intended.)Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I remember hearing some doctors talking about that on the radio at the time. One of them was explaining that Viagra is a “lifestyle drug” that affects both men and women, and that contraception affects only women.
            My big take out of that was that casting contraception in terms of “family planning” is likely to yield improved results, whereas framing it as an issue of “a woman’s right to her own body” comes with some degree of consequences attached.Report

  17. Avatar BSK says:

    Is a parent or doctor who gives a scraming, crying child a shot guilty of assault? I don’t think the two situations are perfectly analogous. One involves the state doing the coercing and the other involves the parent of a minor. One involves a procedure with no medical benefits and involves one with a clear medical purpose. There obviously do exist situations where a parent can be guity of assault or rape, but the threshold is different for a whole host of reasons.

    I don’t know that I would use the term rape, but the only argument here against its usage is the one made here, that it might mean we have to lookat other things we accept as possibly being rape or sexual assault. Generally speaking, that is not a convincing argument. Specifically speaking, it might serve us well to more closely examine what is and is not sexual assault. Maybe that will be a positive change the OP recognized as necessary formur society.Report

  18. Avatar James says:

    Aaaand apparently you censorship mongers made good on your threat? I’m blocked? My voice to dump into the ether and not be seen again?

    I see how it is. TVD can lie his ass off, and I’m the one attacked.Report

  19. Avatar BSK says:

    What if it wasn’t the state requiring it? What if Dr. X said he was happy to perform a legal abortion but only if the patient submitted to an ultrasound of the type described here? Would this be legal? Ethical?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Russell may have a different answer, but from the carrier side I know that there is a presumption that requiring any non-medically necessary procedure is unethical.Report

      • Avatar James B Franks says:

        @Tom Van Dyke  what you seem to misunderstand is that you can not legislate morality. For a person actions to be considered moral  they must come from inside; not be forced from the outside.

        It is the one fact that has always confused me about Christians. They state that their God gave them the freedom to choose between good and evil. Yet they seem to be willing, at almost every turn, to remove that freedom from others.Report

        • Avatar Katherine says:

          Now this argument confuses me.  Many if not most government decisions are moral/ethical ones.  Why do we have a progressive tax rate?  Why do we choose to protect the environment through national parks?  Why do we provide welfare? Why do we debate the proper length of prison sentences?  What influences our laws on capital punishment?  What factors influence Congresspeople’s votes to go or not go to war?  How do we decide which drugs to criminalize, and what the punishments for their use should be?

          All of these things are moral decisions, in that they involve the personal values of the people voting on them.  Every person in the world has a value system, and that value system will influence their political beliefs and positions; if they are in a position of political power, it will affect their decisions on which laws and actions to support or oppose.

          Now, it is another thing to say we cannot or should not pass legislation purely for the purpose of forcing an individual to behave in a moral way (for example, criminalizing adultery).  But the issue of abortion is distinct precisely because it is not such an issue.  For those who are pro-life, abortion involves the protection and preservation of a human life, and is thus a perfectly appropriate sphere for government involvement.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            A+, Katherine.  And now that a woman hath said it, it must be true.Report

            • Avatar Katherine says:

              Your agreement makes me feel substantially worse.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Clarity’s a bitch, Katherine, and it gets no easier from here.   I don’t envy you, believe me.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I must clarify here, Katherine, that I would never high-five anyone’s “agreement” on abortion–this wasn’t that.  I really pray that things aren’t that out of hand here @ LoOG.  This grave question is not a ball game, a team thing, a win or lose, and I would not try to hijack you for my “team.”  There are no wins, and every person of good conscience admits there is nothing but loss involved here, pro-choicers too.

                Anyone on either “side” who doesn’t find this discussion painful isn’t doing it right.

                My A+ was for your analysis and argument that we do legislate our morality.  That we would keep our laws, politics and government free of our sense of right and wrong–morality—in favor of some “neutral” [utilitarian?] standard frightens me more than anything.

                I guess what I mean is that I’ll take my chances on somebody’s heart sooner than their reason.  I think when I started @ LoOG, I’d have trusted in the opposite.  Funny.


          • Avatar Kimmi says:


            Yeah, we regulate morality all the time.

            But when you look at regulating morality, you gotta see a bit more… The ease of evading the regulations, and our fundamental unwillingness to prosecute a woman who aborts a fetus as a murderer.

            I don’t think this is something we can regulate… I think the pro-life version will lead to coathanger abortions, tansy abortions, and half a dozen other ways of killing an unborn child.

            I think there are definitely ways we can incentivize childbirth. But those aren’t “black and white” like authoritarians like.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Insurance companies require non-essential procedures all the time.

        I’m not saying that they’re not unethical; I’m just saying that they often require unnecessary procedures, especially with lab work.

        Say, if I get checked for sickle cell and it comes back negative– was that necessary?Report

        • Avatar Sam says:

          A check for sickle-cell anemia is not a comparable situation as compared to the check we’ve been discussing elsewhere in this thread, is it?Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          Counseling against gastric bypass surgery is not comparable with an invasive procedure.

          Any insurance company asking for an invasive procedure that is unnecessary OUGHT to be getting sued. It’s bloody dangerous. (note: I don’t mean mammograms or their ilk, things that are necessary on a population basis)Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Let me get this straight, because there are a few non sequiturs here.

            First of all, women, left to their own devices, tend to do inadvisable and unwise things, such as put out for a weasel rather than shop it around.
            Therefore, women should be entitled to autonomy of an absolute nature.

            Now, it’s:
            The right to personhood is inexhaustible–
            but on a statistical basis.

            Maybe we would be better off defining first principles:
            Should women be allowed to live in society-at-large, yes or no?

            Whatever your answer is, we can proceed from there.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              It fails to deserve to be counted as a person.

              It blames the victim in a rather monstrous way, and conveniently avoids my arguments where I mention that “non-consensual” (but not forcible) does in fact exist. I’ll make the stronger argument to it, then. Non-consensual is the natural state of deflowering.

              It ought to apologize for being an idiot, but I am rather of the opinion that it’s not human enough to recognize when it makes mistakes.


  20. Avatar mark boggs says:

    I would say it is rape in the same way that Van Dyke’s photo of the seven week old fetus was a person.Report

  21. Avatar FridayNext says:

    Is it appropriate in this thread to refer to Rick Santorum who thinks more prenatal care leads to MORE abortions, “Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.”

    So I guess in the case of the Virginia law they will charge the patient for the procedure, that way it isn’t FREE prenatal care and will therefore lead to less abortions? No, wait. Since you are getting an abortion it technically isn’t “pre-natal” unless of course the ultrasound convinces you not to get the abortion then it is “pre-natal” and will lead to more abortions. No wait. Bear with me. I’ll reconcile these two assertions. Just give me some time.Report

  22. Avatar Chris says:

    I think this thread has been a positive exercise. If there were people who were on the fence about this law, reading those who support it, and their utter callousness and disregard for the women who will be subjected to the procedures mandated by this law, would almost certainly toss them off the fence. For that, I think we can thank Joe and Tom.


  23. Avatar Zelma1900 says:

    OK, I realize this is “The League of Ordinary Gentlemen,” so maybe I don’t belong here.  But I read the article and the comments and I noticed that of all the commentators, only two were identifiably women.  Fascinating.  And both of them disagreed with the tenor of the discussion.

    I would find having a foreign object forced into my vagina without my choice or consent for no good medical reason except to intimidate me and make me feel powerless if not rape, at least something very close to it.  I am saddened by the current attack on women’s personhood and autonomy.

    Look, I’m all too close to my 70th birthday.  I remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade.  I had a friend who almost died trying to abort an unwanted pregnancy.  I know more than a few women who, always reluctantly, chose to end a pregnancy.   I recall living in Connecticut when Planned Parenthood was finally allowed to operate in that state and the gratitude I felt as a graduate student (married by the way) to know that I could control my fertility.  That this is still an issue over forty years later is appalling.  We will not forget in November.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Stick around and comment more.

      Welcome to the site.

      I would find having a foreign object forced into my vagina without my choice or consent for no good medical reason except to intimidate me and make me feel powerless if not rape, at least something very close to it.

      If it’s not clear from the commentary on this thread, I think the majority of the common contributors and posters here agree with you; in the very least, they agree that this is an utterly unreasonable law interfering with your autonomy.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        This is not the first time that it has been assumed that we’re all lined up in favor of this or otherwise against women’s interest (or perceived as such, anyway), when in fact it’s been only one or two.

        Of course, in this case I guess it’s possible for one to disagree with the tenor despite agreeing with the consensus position. In other words, we’re taking the right position, but we’re approaching it wrong. I’m not entirely sure how, though, except for the fact that we are men that are talking about it at all.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          I don’t see people lining up to support the law, but the fact that some people seems more concerned about what they perceive as the overreaction by the left/pro-choice side about the law might have contributed a bit to that assumption. But I think I was probably wrong to be so angry in my comments here, the fact is, men are not going to care as much about this issue as women, and I should just accept than and move along.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            Hey, you stomped on my neck a little hard, but it’s not like your anger was totally unjustified.  I was totally wrong and stuck my leg in my mouth.  So in my case it was a perceived overreaction that turned out to be not so much of an overreaction, really.

            I don’t know that its fair to say that men don’t care about this sort of thing “as much” as women.  We’re going to care about it differently (I can never have an experience quite like LauraNo’s), but even ’twere I be motivated entirely by me and my own, I have a wife and a mother and a daughter, and you can bet colleges in Virginia would be off of the list of places I’d be keen on my daughter going to, if this law stood up.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            FWIW, I don’t know that I agree that I feel that the left has overreacted.  I was pretty clear (I thought) about my opinion of the law.

            My issue is that for a variety of reasons – all of them having to do with policy issues surrounding women’s issues – using the word rape in this instance will be detrimental.

            But there’s a pretty wide chasm between that and me thinking the left is overreacting.Report

            • Avatar sonmi451 says:

              Understood. I was probably interpreting you very uncharitably, apologies for that.

              My own view is colored by the regular experience of reading the writings of men who claim to be pro-choice, who every time a controversy like this arises, seem more interested in lecturing the pro-choice side about not overreaching or overreacting, because that might cause backlash, because even though they want abortion to be legal, we all should recognize that abortion is a great moral evil so some restrictions are not that big a deal etc etc (see: Saletan, William, Dionne, E.J. as examples). Obviously it’s a great wrong to conflate their views with all men ever, but sometimes certain words and phrases just pushes my button when it comes to this issue.Report

              • Avatar scott says:

                You weren’t wrong to react this way.  This post is an illustration of the phenomenon, where the point isn’t to clarify how radical and disturbing the law is but to tut-tut anyone seeking to use language that would actually clarify it in a meaningful and, yes, legally accurate way.  I’m sure the poster means well and is an ok person, but we could use a lot more rhetorical push-back in the ongoing war on women and their bodies, rather than more earnest lectures abut how we shouldn’t be too strident, etc.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Please, for the love of Mike…  Read the fishing post before commenting on it.Report

      • Avatar A Teacher says:

        I will say what I am oft to say now on Abortion discussions/ debates:

        Both sides are speaking a different language and using the same words to mean different things.  They do it for a variety of reasons from framing themselves as the martyrs to honest belief in the virtue of their side to simple ignorance of the way statements are taken.

        Zelma, I absolutely respect the history of Abortion in this country.  I am to young to know pre-RvW days and as noted above part of my baggage includes having a girlfriend tell me point blank that she was going to abort any child we may have created despite our efforts to prevent.

        But as is often the case, we’re again seeing the same buzz phrases which Pro-choice use and Pro-life reject and the same counter arguments will get used because there is no concensus on where things start or stop and it is not just the Far Wing Wonks who disagree.  Reasonable, mature and intelligent people can disagree.

        For example the Pro-choice/ Anti-Life camp will often talk about “reproductive rights” or as you said “Control of my fertility”.  But the Pro-life/ Anti-Choice camp will counter that they are doing what is only reasonable to protect a life.  It becomes a battle of who controls what, who defines terms, what is or is not a life and because those are terribly thorny issues that are profoundly hard to define, we default to those which are easier.  “My body, my choices” / “It’s a life at conception and due rights” / “Between me and my doctor” / “If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex.”

        And we go around and around.

        Do I think this is a good law?  No.  I think it’s a misguided way to, yes, shame people out of having abortions and that is NOT the solution.  You can’t end abortion by making it something people find distasteful because no woman goes through that procedure for the ‘fun’ of it.  It is already distasteful enough.

        I don’t see this, however, as an effort of white men to tell women what to do with their bodies.  I think it’s a desperate effort to save unborn children.  I think it’s a misguided effort to do so and I think that, sure, among the sponsors there are women haters, but I also think that you’ll find women haters in any population.  I don’t think it’s intended to be an assault on reproductive health; I think it’s a desperate attempt to end a practice that, really, we shouldn’t need ~in an ideal~ society.

        What saddens me the most is that there are so many other issues, even tied to Abortion, that need addressing first:  We need to educate on alternatives, provide means for adoption steamlining ~and~ accountablility.  We need to help women make better choices about their bodies to avoid unwanted pregnancy and support them through those.  And in the bigger picture we have a failing economy, failing domestic programs, corrupt banks, bought and paid for politicians and an underfunded educational system.  Why for the love of Reagan, WHY are we making ~this~ the campaign issue of the year?


        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          Yarly. Yes, we have problems. Big fucking problems.

          Republicans make this the campaign issue, because Santorum ain’t got nothin else. He was a shitty ass corrupt thief of a Senator (nearly as bad as Toomey)…Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I would find having a foreign object forced into my vagina without my choice or consent for no good medical reason except to intimidate me and make me feel powerless if not rape, at least something very close to it. I am saddened by the current attack on women’s personhood and autonomy.

      I think you’re reading a lot of intent into it that, more likely than not, isn’t there.
      That’s a ghost issue.
      If I thought the sole purpose was to intimidate women or to make them feel powerless, rob them of autonomy, etc., I would say it’s bad.
      Show me where all that’s at.
      When you make it clear, sans stridency, that these statements of intent are necessarily true, I will be happy to agree with you.
      I’m not persuaded by noise. Male or female noise.
      Just the facts, ma’am.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        It’s talking again. It wants feedback. Should I give it some?

        I think not. It refuses to understand why gendering noise is inflammatory.

        When it reconsiders enough to apologize, I will reconsider gendering it.Report

      • Avatar karl says:

        Well, the facts are that you don’t have a vagina and you can’t get pregnant (you can’t even be coerced into it).  I assume, though, that you don’t see what difference those facts make.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          Actually there are people who think that not having a vagina make them better suited to argue and have opinions about this issue (more objectivity, less hysterical, all that good stuff, you know). Of course Will H. is probably not one of those people.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          Actually there are people who think that not having a vagina makes them better suited to argue and have opinions about this issue (more objectivity, less hysterical, all that good stuff, you know). Of course Will H. is probably not one of those people.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          Is it proper that a judge who owns a car should be allowed to sentence a car thief?

          Seriously, come up with a reasoned argument.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            It refuses to deal with my reasoned arguments, calling them maudlin. I don’t see why anyone should listen when it requests reasoned arguments out of them.Report

  24. Avatar Zelma1900 says:

    BTW, I should note that most of the commentators here seemed to oppose the Virginia law.  (Has anyone remembered that Texas has a very similar law?)  I’m just suggesting that women might find the appellation “State Rape” a bit more persuasive.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Not just Texas.  Some sort of “informed consent” bill with or without requirements is on the books in several states, including Indiana, Oklaholma, both Dakotas, Michigan, Georgia, Mississippi, and several others.

      Some of these are decidedly less objectionable than others.  All of them are a waste of medical resources, though; so even the least objectionable ones represent an unnecessary cost added to health care.Report

  25. Avatar Zelma1900 says:

    I don’t comment much on the internets although I read widely.  One reason is that I often look at what I have written afterwards and say, darn it, I didn’t make myself clear.  This is one of those occasions!

    When I read the comment thread, I was struck with the lack of female participation, not necessarily with what was being said.  Indeed, most of the commentators were as unhappy with the Virginia law as I am.  But what struck me – which I didn’t make completely clear – was the “maleness” of the writers.  I was reminded of the fact that, in the aftermath of the Obama administration’s requirement that birth control be covered by Catholic organizations, over 85% of the commentators on TV were male.  Likewise, I was reminded of the “unholy five” who spoke at the laughable Issa hearings.

    So what I set out to discuss was really the lack of female voices in all too much of the conversation about what is, in fact, an issue that that is chiefly a “women’s” issue, their control of their own bodies and their fertility.  But my own personal history and experiences kind of took over my writing.  I “lived” the pre-contraception, pre-abortion world.  And I have this deep seated need to try to make it clear to those who can’t remember what it was like, to those who are too young to understand its painful and scary nature.

    I do think that women of my age are not as vocal as we should be.  Partly it’s because older women are so often ignored.  Partly it’s because we don’t engage as we can and should.  So maybe this conversation is a start.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      You write pretty well, iff’n I say so.  Clarifications are something I find myself writing *all the time* 🙂

      Stick around, comment more.  We’d be glad to have more female voices on the site.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      So what I set out to discuss was really the lack of female voices in all too much of the conversation about what is, in fact, an issue that that is chiefly a “women’s” issue, their control of their own bodies and their fertility.

      That is exactly the sort of thing that tells me that I should never lift a finger to even attempt to defend a “woman’s right.”
      And not only in “women’s issues,” but race issues, etc.
      I think they can all go to hell until they can learn to deal with people as people.
      Whatever your goals are, you’re going to need to be able to bring other people that aren’t exactly like you into agreement with you in order to have some manner of political power.

      For that matter, I think Muslims, as a whole, have done a terrific job of being able to plead their issues without making it a “muslim’s issue” and willfully alienating people.
      A lot of gays are able to as well, but there are really two different political movements there that are very dissimilar.Report

      • Avatar sonmi451 says:

        That is exactly the sort of thing that tells me that I should never lift a finger to even attempt to defend a “woman’s right.”
        And not only in “women’s issues,” but race issues, etc.
        I think they can all go to hell until they can learn to deal with people as people.

        You care so much about their issues, but you can’t be bothered to “lift a finger” until they stop hurting your feelings. Got it. You know, this is just my guess, but I think we/they can do fine without your precious finger. Thanks for the well-meaning thought, though.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Indeed, I’m told one involves leather and the other one doesn’t. Am unable to comment, as I haven’t participated in either.


      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        I think they can all go to hell until they can learn to deal with people as people.

        Will, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that telling anybody anything requires first that you have some sort of standing.  People have to want to listen to *you*.  If people don’t have a level of trust in you to overcome their natural suspicion… well, then, how you expect…

        Whatever your goals are, you’re going to need to be able to bring other people that aren’t exactly like you into agreement with you in order to have some manner of political power.

        … that.

        And if your idea of a great way to acquire standing is, “If they don’t grant me standing just ’cause, to hell with them”, I gotta say, I expect your approach is not going to do much to bring other people who aren’t exactly like you into agreement with you.

        They might collectively all decide that whatever their own disagreements are, you’re kind of the sort of person that they collectively would like to not ever see have any sort of power, though.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          PatC, with all due respect to Aristotle, all persuasiveness, no matter how artistic, is temporary.  It is political.  There are many here @ LoOG who seem to be running for something.  They enjoy the victory of the day and the approbation of their fellows. But we are talking technique, and we are talking human sentiments, not the truth of the matter.

          I’m not disagreeing with you here, mind you.  Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” is spot on in its analysis of how humans listen to these arguments.  The question of “standing” is all, these days.  Find us a victim and we have located moral authority.

          But this rubric is garbage.  There is nothing a male would say on the subject of “reproductive freedom” that many females don’t say as well.  In fact—I’ll repost it here—pro-life and pro-choice split evenly enough to make this “standing” thing true as an analysis of the effectiveness of rhetoric per Aristotle, but tantamount to a lie when it comes to principled discussion of the abortion issue.

          It’s about time we put this lie to bed—that ideas, ideals, morals and principles have genitals.  They do not.


          • Avatar Chris says:

            There are many here @ LoOG who seem to be running for something.  They enjoy the victory of the day and the approbation of their fellows. But we are talking technique, and we are talking human sentiments, not the truth of the matter.

            Says the dude who frequently ends a conversation by screaming “Winning!” in his best Charlie Sheen voice, and then running away (with a few parting shots at those he claims to have defeated). Sometimes, Tom, I wonder if you’ve ever owned a mirror.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            It’s about time we put this lie to bed—that ideas, ideals, morals and principles have genitals. They do not.


            A quotable nugget.
            Thanks, TomReport

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

          I want to consider this, and I see where it may prove useful.
          But I think it’s non-applicable in this case.
          But maybe that’s just me.
          In my view, it the idea which has standing, and not its source.
          The idea stands on its own virtue.

          I have a neighbor who is a bit slow. Nevertheless, he’s really good at reading situations and breaking them down into simple terms.
          Maybe it has to do with a natural inclination to simple terms.
          But the point is: Sometimes it is prudent to listen attentively to people who are really dumb.
          It’s the idea which stands on its own merit.

          On a personal note, I am bi-racial; and I spent an awful lot of time in mt teens & 20’s wondering who I am, and what set of expectations I’m supposed to live up to.
          Real similar to what KyleC is going through right now with the conflict between his faith and his social circles. I have a lot of sympathy for him, and I wish him well.
          For me, I just got tired of it. I couldn’t stand the tension any more. I gave up. I determined that I am me— whatever in the world that might mean, and that I wasn’t bound by anyone else’s expectations. Shaking off those expectations from inside was quite a relief.
          I think that might be how gay people feel when they “come out.”
          I guess you could say that I had a “coming out” experience. As a result, I really don’t consider standing, on a personal basis, to be too terribly important.

          That said, it did mean a lot to me that you would be the one to bring this up.
          That’s because I’ve come to know you a bit, and appreciate your… analytics, I suppose you’d say. Like maybe you might have a bit of Vulcan blood in your heritage.
          I like that.
          Pointy ears or no.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            For a long time I thought ideas should stand or fall on their own merit.

            And then I realized that most ideas don’t.  Good ones do tend to bubble to the top, and bad ones do tend to sink to the bottom, but they usually need an usher.

            Whether or not this is the way things ought to be doesn’t matter, really.  Sometimes I still wish it was that way.  Hell, I think I make a non-terrible intellectual usher, but it’s hard for me to appeal both to someone’s noggin and their sense of justice and their own humanity all at the same time.  I have to work too damn hard at it.  But people don’t buy ideas from people they don’t trust.

            Megh.  People!Report

  26. Avatar Sam says:

    It never stops being incredible the way some self-proclaimed libertarians can see the light of government intervention so long as its being visited against women. Rand Paul gets felt up at an airport? GROSS GOVERNMENT OVERREACH!!! Rand Paul on his way to a Anti-Choice Festival where they advocate precisely this sort of invasion? Well, let’s talk about it, there’s a lot of nuance here, a lot of subtleties, we really need to explore the issue.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Which self-proclaimed libertarians around here support Rand Paul’s abortion policy preferences? Which self-proclaimed libertarians here support the Virginia law, or are even on the fence about it?Report

      • Avatar Sam says:

        I didn’t say here.

        But you’d think this would be a jaw-dropping law for almost everyone, even here. But there are people in the comments looking on, if not approvingly, at least consideringly, which isn’t a word. This goes back to a larger point that I’ve tried (and generally failed) to make: men speak to these issues without having any idea of what the specifics are actually like and without any comparable situation existing in our own lives. I get blasted every time I try to make this argument (which is fine), but I don’t believe it is any less salient.

        To put that another way: I’ve always enjoyed the joke that if men could get pregnant, there’d be a Planned Parenthood in every Starbucks.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I’d be interested in seeing a post by any self-styled Libertarian explaining how this law is a good law, actually. Heck, I’d like to read a post by a self-styled Libertarian arguing an agnostic position.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Well, it couldn’t be done JB. You know that. Libertarians ought to be are fundamentally opposed to this type of policy. But as Dan Miller linked above, Tyler Cowen seems to think this is good libertarian law.


            • Avatar sonmi451 says:

              In his defense, I think he was just trying to make fun of liberals and score political points. That’s very despicable, of course, considering the gravity of the issue, but I don’t think he was trying to make a libertarian case for the law.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Agreed with Sonmi.  As a regular reader of Cowen, this is the only interpretation of his tweet that is consistent with his general run of arguments.  It’s a bad tweet, and he picked a bad topic on which to needle them for their support of over-the-top consumer protection laws, but it’s a lot more plausible that even a guy as smart as him gets a bit stupid in off-the-cuff comments than that he would advocate this law.

                He does deserve some abuse for the comment, though, and to the extent he’s been misunderstood, he’s really at fault in this case.Report

  27. Avatar choice says:

    I am like some others who would want to have more information to decide whether or not the mother was essentially facilitating rape.  If the girl told the doctor “No,” a decent doctor would trying other ways of determining what was wrong and, if a vaginal exam still seemed necessary to determine that, would express that concern to try to change her mind.  But a teenage girl who does not want you to touch her private parts?  If it did not seem life-threatening or the girl was not in pain, etc., and she strongly refused even when her mother was not present and had had the reason for the exam explained clearly, it’s at least close to rape.

    The reason the ultrasound law was called state rape, however, is different.  This exam is not just required to get an abortion.  The wording of the law says that, if a girl/woman so much as seeks an abortion, the doctor must conduct the examination even if she expresses non-consent and even in cases where this examination might be detrimental to her mental health.  Thus, a victim of forcible rape for whom Plan B has failed must have such an exam even if she is seeking a medical (chemical) rather than a surgical abortion and is still severely traumatized by the rape. The ZEF is not a person as that term is used in the US Constitution or cases that have come before federal courts, but the girl/woman is such a person.  The Virginia law is, by the standards of the 4th Amendment, an unreasonable search.  The mandatory ultrasound fits the definition of rape instituted by the FBI and that of Virginia’s own rape laws.  It  is rape.Report

  28. Avatar scott says:

    I love how the guys (and they are guys) on this site love to fuzz up something that’s actually quite specific, a law that forces women to have an object shoved up their private parts if they want to do something that’s perfectly legal.  Aside from the red-herring context of the issue of consent for a minor and his/her parents, the legal definitions of rape by object fit this situation very closely for everyone else.  If you don’t like to call this “rape,” even if it fits the definition, we’re back in the territory Susan Estrich was charting 25 + years ago, where the argument was about “real rape,” which couldn’t include doing thigs to women without their consent based on the good-guy reasons adduced by the men doing it.  It’s about the ability of women to control their own bodies regardless of whether the others seeking to control their bodies have good reasons, bad reasons, goofy reasons, pervy reasons, etc.  If I want to do something legal, I shouldn’t have my ability to do it conditioned on the invasion of my body by an object.  The fact that the word “rape” as defined fits this situation very closely and makes people uncomfortable shouldn’t cause us to wonder about the word “rape” and to want to dilute it or qualify it but to ask why a government would be mandating something that even comes within hailing distance of the concept.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Ok.  You definitely didn’t bother reading the OP.Report

      • Avatar scott says:

        I did.  You think that being more rhetorically accommodating about what rape is will help with identifying, preventing and punishing sexual assault.  I don’t.  I think that having a squishy debate about good-guy/bad-guy reasons for physical invasions of a woman’s body just encourages the idea that it isn’t a horrible and stigmatic thing to do.  If that means that people tread carefully because of the stigma associated with the word before doing something like this, then they should.  Shame and stigma should attach to people who force a woman against her will to be penetrated by an object simply because she wants to do somehing legal.Report

        • Avatar sonmi451 says:

          Actually I think Tod was saying that we should be LESS rhetorically-accomodating about using the word rape, i.e. making sure the word is not thrown around so much that people start taking it not seriously. (At least that’s my reading of the post). I agree with that general point, I just don’t agree that using the word “rape” in this case is inappropriate.Report

          • Avatar scott says:

            I don’t disagree with the general point either.  I just find it very odd that we’re urged to be careful about our use of language in this specific case when it fits the well-established meaning of rape very closely.  And I meant that shying away from using the word here is “more accommodating” to those who might feel stigmatized by the use of the word when stigma and shame are perfectly appropriate sanctions.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          With all due respect, if you are of the opinion that I think we should be accommodating about rape or the procedures surrounding this bill, you very clearly either did not actually read it, or you decided what I was going to say before you started and then saw what you wanted to see.

          Go ahead… Cut and paste the part where I insinuate that there is no “good guy/bad guy” about this bill, or where I’m squishy about how I feel about the bill.  Show me.Report

  29. Avatar Sam says:

    Would the men on this thread defending, or at least agreeing to consider, this procedure be equally willing to accept the state mandating an equally unnecessary medical act if the person receiving it were male? Suppose that the state decided that before any man could be prescribed medication, he had to receive a colonoscopy. Would that be tolerable?


  30. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    This would actually be a pretty perfect example of my concern as described in the OP.Report

  31. Avatar Sam says:

    Here are specifics of what we’re talking about. Warning: there is a totally NSFW (wo)mannequin at that link.

    Moderators, if this is inappropriate, my apologies. But I think a move from the somewhat abstract illustration to the particular device matters and helps us to better understand what we’re all talking about.Report

    • Avatar choice says:

      Thank you, Sam.  What I tried to convey in my post is that this bill is clearly not concerned with the health or well-being of girls and women. The key to understanding that is that we can imagine a victim of “forcible” rape being subject to this law even though it is may be extremely psychologically damaging and is not medically necessary.  The people making the bill may be imagining that a girl or woman does not know what an embryo is and thus will later regret having an abortion, but the result of enforcing the bill will be that a girl or woman will regret living in a state that effectively punishes even 12-year-old rape victims for having sex.  And why should anyone be punished for having sex or, for that matter, seeking a legal medical procedure?  This is a very icky bill with questionable motives, and legally by Virginia’s own rape law, the mandated procedure is rape.Report

  32. Avatar Anonymous_J says:

    OK, SOOOOO the very same party that wants the government LESS involved in American’s healthcare (Criticizing the Accountable Care Act) is working at the nitty-gritty testing levels of our health? Can I say CONTRADICTION much?

    You are NOT doctors, you are politicians! Go to Med school if you want to play doctor, or get out!Report