One of the scariest anti-abortion bills in the U.S. right now is Virgina’s “mandatory ultrasound” bill, which requires a woman seeking an abortion to be vaginally penetrated with a speculum and ultrasound probe. The doctor operating the transvaginal ultrasound will then reflect that image onscreen; women will be forced to undergo this procedure to have an abortion even if they don’t want it. There is absolutely no medical reason to do a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion, the bill doesn’t provide any exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and opponents of the bill have pointed out that it is, oh, you know, mandating doctors to sexual assault their patients.
Nevertheless, that scary bill passed Virginia’s House of Delegates last week. Now one politician, Delegate David Englin, a Democrat, is trying to draw attention to the fact that if abortion providers are required to probe women with transvaginal ultrasounds against their will, ultimately these doctors will be punishable under VA’s “object sexual penetration statute.”
In an interview with the blog Reproductive Health Reality Check, English points out how in the “object sexual penetration statute,” penetrating someone against their consent “other than for a bona fide medical reason” — which these invasive ultrasounds are not — is a crime punishable for at least five years. He continued:
“If it becomes law as it’s currently written, the ultrasound mandate being pushed by anti-choice Virginia Republicans would subject women to a medically-unnecessary invasion of their bodies without their consent. That’s a moral outrage that every decent person should oppose, regardless of partisan politics. Worse still, it appears as if the lack of any consent requirement would turn doctors into criminals by compelling them to commit object sexual penetration, which is a heinous sex crime under Virginia law.”
Englin told RH Reality Check that he plans to raise the “object sexual penetration statute” in the Virginia Senate this week.
I’m grateful to have pro-women’s health allies like him in government … even if no one should have to explain to politicians that asking abortion providers to sexually assault their patients is a bad thing.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.