Indiana is the latest state to threaten cumbersome and needlessly invasive medical procedures for women who choose to get an abortion. In fact, the state could jump ahead of other conservative states doing everything in their power to restrict a woman's right to choose. The Hoosier state might be the first to demand not just one, but two transvaginal ultrasounds from any woman receiving a medical abortion. You know, just in case you weren't completely aware that this is an attempt to make women uncomfortable and attacked.
The Indiana Senate committee just approved a bill that would require an ultrasound both before and after a medical abortion, meaning an abortion using prescription drug RU-486. Because the drug is only used on pregnancies less than nine weeks along, doctors say that any ultrasound performed for these pregnancies would have to be transvaginal. And that's not all. The bill also has measures imposing unnecessary regulations on clinics who administer the drug, regulations that could shut down clinics providing reproductive healthcare in the state.
I feel uniquely qualified to discuss what a disgusting violation of personal rights this bill is. First of all, I live in Indiana. The bill will directly affect me. Second of all, I have taken a drug that causes medical abortions, Methotrexate. This bill specifically talks about RU-486, but the two prescriptions have the same effect. And last, but definitely not least, I have experienced the incredible uncomfortableness of a transvaginal ultrasound.
Sen. Travis Holdman, who wrote the bill, claims that the legislation is meant to ensure a woman's safety. He argued in the Senate:
"I realize bills of this nature, folks have very firm beliefs on what we should or shouldn't be doing. We are not requiring or practicing medicine without a license as some have alleged. ... We're just trying to control and regulate abortion-inducing drugs, which heretofore have not been regulated by the state of Indiana. I don't believe we're asking for anything that's unreasonable. We're talking about the life of the mother and the child."
The idea that this legislation isn't attempting to "practice medicine," is ludicrous. They are demanding invasive medial procedures, procedures much more expensive and intrusive than necessary. Why would a woman need an ultrasound after her abortion to make sure that the procedure was successful? Any doctor can tell you that a blood or urine test could provide the same information with much less cost and loss of privacy to individual patient. Why would she need one before an abortion? Women are completely capable of understanding what is happening in their bodies without a doctor inserting a probe into her uterus and pointing everything out to her.
And yes, ultrasounds, especially transvaginal ultrasounds that would be necessary for anyone less then ten weeks pregnant, are unreasonable expectations for women looking to exercise a federally protected right. Unnecessarily sticking a probe into someone's birth canal is not a reasonable expectation. There is nothing minor about having several inches of plastic inserted into one's vagina while sitting with your legs in stirrups. It is uncomfortable and personal and should never be forced upon anyone.
And to Travis Holdman's final point, that we're talking about the lives a mother and child. I find it personally offensive for him to pull out this type of rhetoric, as if he has the moral high ground in this situation. I took the medication to have an abortion after I found out that the baby my husband and I had been trying to conceive for years was ectopic. I sobbed as I made that decision. And Travis Holdman pretending that he understands anything about my life and my choice is insulting. He has no idea how horrible that experience was for me, and how much worse it might have been under laws like the ones he is proposing, where the government inserts itself into my personal reproductive health.
The Indiana government does not need to step in and enforce extraneous regulations on medical abortions and RU-486. It is a prescription medication. It is regulated just like every other prescription medication used in this country. And it is used for medical purposes that should be decided between a patient and their physician. No legislator should be permitted to insert themselves into that choice.
Every woman in the state of Indiana should be offended by this bill. We should be disgusted that our legislature would attempt to force a physically invasive, expensive, unnecessary procedure on us because it wants to make a political statement about abortion rights.
As someone with first hand knowledge of exactly what this bill is attempting to force on the women of Indiana, I have never been more ashamed or disgusted to be a Hoosier in my entire life.
(Photo: Maddow Blog)