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Virginia legislature passes controversial laws about abortion

Staff February 22, 2012 Opinion No Comments

Virginia is passing some frightening abortion legislation.
The state’s House of Delegates recently passed one bill that would declare a fertilized egg at any stage of development a person under Virginia law. This means zygotes and embryos would be subject to the same rights and privileges as adults and other people.
Another bill would require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound test performed so they could see images of the fetus. Applying this stipulation to even the earliest, most proactive abortions (which the legislation does) would require a transvaginal ultrasound—a procedure in which a probe is inserted into the vagina to produce images of the reproductive organs that a traditional, external ultrasound wouldn’t be able to provide.
Both these measures are incredibly flawed and are extreme affronts to women.
The first is scientifically, logically and philosophically unsound. A fertilized egg in its earliest stages of development is certainly a living organism, but to qualify it is a person carries major implications.
An embryo is wholly dependent on its mother to survive. It subsists on everything she ingests—food, water, air and a number of other things. It is not biologically developed enough to live on its own.
This does not sound like a person to me.
I cannot think of a living human being who lacks the ability to eat, drink and breathe—to live—on his or her own. While people do depend on others, it is of their own conscious choice to do so. Embryos do not have that choice.
The ultrasound legislation is even more disturbing. Forcing a woman to view images of her own internal organs is a clear effort to influence her decision whether or not to have an abortion.
I personally feel that women are perfectly capable of making such a decision on their own. Legislation such as this implies that women lack the cognitive ability to do so and that it’s the government’s responsibility to do it for them.
Virginia’s lawmakers need to understand that women are not mentally incapable. This bill would make legal intensely loaded methods of coercion. Men aren’t required to go through counseling or view an ultrasound of their testicles before having a vasectomy.
I fail to see the necessity of government regulation of what women do with their own bodies when there is no question of those decisions by men. These sexist double standards imply that women are somehow intellectually inferior and that they should be given no faith or freedom.
Furthermore, the bill’s ultrasound requirement would arguably legalize rape.
A transvaginal ultrasound, which the bill would require if a traditional ultrasound couldn’t produce sufficient images, is a decidedly invasive procedure.
Under this legislation a woman seeking an abortion would be forced to have an object inserted into her vagina; an amendment to require the woman’s consent was even expressly rejected by the Virginia legislature.
According to the United States Department of Justice, this is rape. In January, the DOJ redefined rape as “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
The transvaginal ultrasound stipulation fits this definition to a T—it is nonconsensual penetration of the vagina.
I can understand the position of the bill’s advocates. They want to minimize the number of abortions that occur in their state, which is not a bad goal.
Raping women, however, is an improper, disgusting way to achieve that goal.
The most effective, practical and sensible way to do this would be the wide distribution of and easy access to contraceptives. Abortion is a way of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, whether it be a result of rape, incest or unsafe sex. The government’s interest, then, should be to minimize unplanned pregnancy, which access to contraceptives succeeds in doing.
State-sanctioned rape and other deplorable affronts to women like those in Virginia do not do so.

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