Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
State-Sanctioned Rape Via Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound: A Rape Victim’s Perspective
by Andy Kopsa
February 22, 2012
It has been interesting and heartening to see the massive response by the women of Virginia – and the whole country – to come together with justified outrage against the state-sanctioned rape bill requiring women seeking abortion to undergo medically unnecessary and costly trans-vaginal ultrasounds. It has also been quite interesting to see the curious push back from the right on the use of the word “rape” when describing the bill which could require the penetration of a woman’s vagina without her consent (rape).
I found this article posted at The Week especially telling about the nature of the right-wing push back:
Critics say the bill is worrisome in part because the only way to do an ultrasound early in pregnancy is by inserting a probe into a woman’s vagina. “Let’s start calling this what it really is: State-sanctioned rape,” says Andy Kopsa at RH Reality Check. Is this hyperbole by abortion-rights advocates?
The Week article goes on to reference Slate’s recent article on the subject which is supportive of the state sanctioned rape framing. But then I read this passage and became frankly a bit sick to my stomach:
Don’t insult rape victims: The Left is waging a “preposterous attack” on this bill, and doing “an enormous injustice to true rape victims,” says Tina Korbe at Hot Air. Transvaginal sonograms will be more rare than critics allege, and even then, how are they like rape? It’s not as if “an ultrasound is in any way sexual.”And unlike rape, ultrasounds have “no real risk of negative consequences — like emotional trauma or STDs.” This bill would just give women the information they need before making the serious and sometimes traumatic choice to have an abortion. (emphasis mine)
Rape as a sexual act? Really? Let’s be really clear here: rape is an act of violence. Rape is non-consensual penetration of a vagina or anus.
Cristen Hemmins, an outspoken survivor of a horrific rape who played a critical role in the defeat of the Mississippi “personhood” amendment last year is outraged. This morning she told me,
“Penetration against your will is penetration against your will. If after bring brutally raped by two men who also shot me twice as I escaped, I had been forced to have an unnecessary trans-vaginal sonogram in order to get an abortion, it would have infuriated be beyond words. The one and only reason such a thing is being called for is to humiliate and punish women who need a medical treatment–abortion. The government has NO PLACE mandating such. As a rape victim, I find this bill insulting and maddening. The men who are mandating this, and any woman who defends it, has no respect or sympathy for rape victims, nor faith in a woman’s ability to make her own decisions.”
Addressing the idea of rape being in any way “sexual” Hemmins struggled to find a way to respond to such a ludicrous claim:
“It so dumb I don’t know how to respond to it, really. I would assume that if you ask any rape victim, they will tell you that after being raped, it takes a while to be able to enjoy sex again. Doesn’t that make it clear? Being raped is different from being beaten or simply physically assaulted. It’s a deeper level domination and humiliation.”
Although the “ultrasound as asexual act makes it not rape argument” takes the cake, there are other weird defenses of the Virginia law out there. One of my favorites is the “it doesn’t hurt that much so stop whining argument” or there is the “if trans-vaginal ultrasound is rape then so is abortion because they stick something up there argument” which is equally brilliant.
Here’s the deal, it isn’t about pain, it isn’t about the sexiness of a vaginal probe or the GOP’s desire to ensure women have “all the information” about her pregnancy. It is about violation, humiliation and punishment as a way to further dismantle Roe and restrict access to a legal medical procedure: abortion.