I wrote yesterday that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell basically pulled a Bart Stupak.

McDonnell blew an opportunity that comes along only rarely in public life, to be an honest-to-goodness hero. Like Stupak, McDonnell more than squandered it. He ended up hurting the pro-life cause by weakening sound, proven ultrasound legislation.

But what about feminists?

They are presently congratulating themselves for cleverly equating transvaginal ultrasounds to “forcible rape,” but their victory will be short-lived.

They, too, blew it, digging themselves into a hole pro-lifers should not let them climb out of.

Abortion proponent Carole Joffe, professor at UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, recognized the problem in a February 29 piece she wrote at Slate entitled,”Crying rape: Pro-choice advcoates should quit calling ultrasounds rape”:

“Are we now going to have to convince our patients we are not raping them?” A longtime abortion provider posed that question to colleagues on a listserv this week, and it demonstrates what is wrongheaded about the rhetoric that abortion rights supporters have been using to oppose ultrasound laws. In the short run, the labeling has sent pro-life legislators running. But in the long run, it risks turning a benign and routine part of the abortion procedure into cause for alarm.

Pro-choice commentators have called the transvaginal form of ultrasound that’s standard early in pregnancy “rape,” “forced vaginal penetration,” and an “unnecessary medical procedure”…. In the short run, this framing galvanized a pro-choice backlash against the Virginia ultrasound bill….

But I have considerable concerns about what calling these ultrasounds “rape” and “unnecessary” will mean for abortion patients and providers. The reality is that most abortion patients do receive an ultrasound to date their pregnancies. Since most abortions take place in the first trimester of pregnancy, many of these ultrasounds are performed with a transvaginal probe, the most effective method for viewing early-stage pregnancies….. Most of the time, however, the transvaginal ultrasound is a useful and common tool that helps providers perform abortions safely and well.

But now that women have heard abortion supporters describe this form of ultrasound as “rape,” will more of them be terrified when they arrive at a clinic and are informed they will have such a procedure? Or might they be scared off altogether? Will abortion clinic staff who perform the ultrasound be seen as “rapists,” as the provider I mentioned earlier worried? This is a possibility not lost on the anti-abortion website LifeNews, which recently ran the headline, “If Ultrasound is Rape, Arrest Planned Parenthood Staffers.”

Indeed, abortion proponents like RH Reality Check went to great lengths to make ultrasound probes appear menacing, like this illustration it included in the post, “State-sanctioned rape: Trans-vaginal ultrasound laws in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa”…

 But Planned Parenthood operates its business no differently than the original Virginia ultrasound bill. Planned Parenthood forces mothers to undergo two ultrasounds before abortions, one of which may be transvaginal. Which will Planned Parenthood choose if a mother refuses a transvaginal ultrasound – the mother’s wishes or sound medical care? That’s one question to ask.

Here’s another: If a woman has a psychological aversion to transvaginal ultrasound, should not abortion clinic “counselors” flag her as ill-equipped to handle an abortion?

I say that because, unlike transvaginal ultrasounds, abortions are in no way benign. Following is an illustration of the most common method of abortion, suction and curettage. Aside from numerous surgical instruments inserted into the vagina and uterus. Click to enlarge…

 Remember there is also the accompanying sound and sensation of a suction machine. Both are well illustrated in this video, which I can attest is accurate, having assisted in a number of D&Cs…
 Is there any question which procedure is more intrusive? Here’s how Planned Parenthood describes both. Note the transvaginal ultrasound “is not painful” but the abortion requires numbing medication, pain medication, and even sedation…

 There is certainly no “recovery period” following an ultrasound.

The “rape” argument can be thrust back at abortion proponents in so many ways. The basic question is: Which is really more comparable to rape: ultrasound or abortion?

[Graphic via Write Chic Press]

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