Women say no to 'state-sponsored rape'

One of the hundreds of women who protested outside the Virginia State Capitol wore a T-shirt which read "Say No to State-Mandated Rape", in reference to one of two new bills set to make getting a legal abortion much harder in the state.

The two bills have prompted mounting outrage since passing through the Virginia House last week. The first "personhood" bill gives state rights to an unborn child, a fertilised egg, while the second requires any woman who wants to have an abortion to undergo an ultrasound beforehand. As most early stage abortions are carried out before 12 weeks, this is an invasive procedure where a condom-covered probe is inserted into the vagina until an image is produced. The bill would also then give the woman an "opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion", though she can opt out of this.

Proponents of the plan believe women should be given longer to confront the choices they are about to make, despite the fact that they are likely to have thought long and hard about the decision and are in the midst of a very emotional and stressful time.

CNN reports that the bill is being backed by Republican Robert Marshall, a long-running abortion opponent who has tried to repeatedly pass laws which give rights to the unborn child.

A petition opposing both bills has been organised by ProgressVA and already has 23,526 signatures. It argues that "women's medical decisions about her body should be between her, her family and her doctor" — not the government.

Dahlia Lithwick, a writer for slate.com, also argues that the bill in support of a "transvaginal ultrasound" contravenes the landmark ruling of Roe vs Wade, which cleared the path for safe, legal abortion in the US. Litwick writes: "The problem is not just that the woman and her physician (the core relationship protected in Roe) no longer matter at all in deciding whether an abortion is proper. It is that the physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman," she says.

According to information from the Guttmacher Institute it seems that Virginia is not alone in passing through laws which require an ultrasound – seven other states also require this: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The Virginia law still has to pass through the state senate education and health committee. Campaigners hope that the media backlash will help shed light on the bill and put the rights back into the hands of women.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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