Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pennsylvania, get out of our uteruses and stay out!

Where are you, my sisters?
Or maybe I should say, where are we?
Where are we who came of age in the 1960s before you could legally get contraceptives, before you could legally and safely get an abortion; we who fought for women’s liberation in schools, in the workplace, in medical care and financial dealings?
Where are we, as anti-choice, birth-control-hating, religious right radicals shove law after law through state legislature after state legislature to take away the rights we have fought for again and again and again since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1972?
April 25, 2004: March for Women’s Lives – Washington, D.C. – Pro-choice marchers numbered between 500,000 and 1 million after President George W. Bush signed the partial-birth abortion ban into law   (Later overturned by the courts).    This march may still hold the record for the largest march on Washington in history.  It was only eight years ago!  
April 9, 1995: Rally for Women’s lives – Washington, D.C. – 200,000 marchers.   
April 1992: Pro-choice rally after Supreme Court upheld most of Casey v. Planned Parenthood – Washington, D.C. – 100,000 to 200,000 pro-choice participants.
These marches showed how passionately millions of women care about whether the government can control their bodies, deny them safe abortions and interfere with their most intimate and traumatic life-changing decisions.  This passion and determination has kept Roe v. Wade the law of the land for 40 years.    
So here we are again, or maybe only some of us are. 

Pennsylvania’s ultrasound bill

Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1077, the Women’s Right to Know Act.  Read this sucker.  Just read it.
This bill requires any woman seeking a legal abortion to:
·         Go through the 24-hour waiting period and other rigmarole already imposed on women in Pennsylvania by Casey v. Planned Parenthood;
·         Undergo an ultrasound before the 24-hour waiting period begins, with the screen turned toward her;
·         Listen to the fetal heartbeat, or refuse to (if that is possible);
·         Sign forms and statements attesting that she has either watched the ultrasound and listened to the fetal heartbeat or refused to do so;
·         Have those forms put on file at the medical facility where the ultrasound is performed;
·         Present these forms to the doctor performing the abortion who also must put the forms on file for seven  years;
·         Carry two prints of the ultrasound with her, one to give her abortion provider and one to cherish as a keepsake, I guess.   I’m certain that if the Legislature could require that it be taped to a stereopticon positioned in front of her eyes, it would;
·         Fine the doctor a criminal penalty of $5,000 per incident if he or she does not ensure that all these steps are carried out. 

No transvaginal ultrasound, maybe

The Pennsylvania bill does not per se require a transvaginal ultrasound as the Virginia bill did before that provision was removed, but it does so in effect.   
It says: “The ultrasound test SHALL (always means “must” in legal language) be used to make an accurate determination of gestational age … in a manner consistent with standard medical practice in determining gestational age.   When only the gestational sac is visible during an ultrasound test, gestational age may be based upon measurement of the gestational sac.”
Guess how doctors measure the gestational sac when the pregnancy is in such an early stage that nothing else is visible.  You got it.  Transvaginal ultrasound, or “state rape” as we now call it since it fits the U.S. Department of Justice’s definition of rape: any penetration of a person against his or her will. 
The Pennsylvania bill is interesting for two things it does say:
(1)    It refers to “unborn child” several times and defines unborn child as “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.”  I don’t know if this is the Legislature’s sneaky way of trying to legalize “personhood” or not.  Personhood, defining a person as existing from the moment of conception, has been defeated in referendums in Colorado and Mississippi, the only two places where it has been tried so far.   If “Personhood” is ever enacted in any state, it would effectively ban abortion and some birth control in that state as anything that interferes with the survival of a fertilized egg or zygote would be defined as murder.
(2)    It mentions “fetal heartbeat” or “cardiac activity” more than 21 times.   A woman seeking an abortion can avoid looking at the ultrasound while it is being performed by turning her face away from the screen, but it will be virtually impossible for her to avoid hearing a heartbeat if one is present.   And the state really, really wants her to hear that heartbeat.
One hundred and eleven (111) members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including 13 Republican women and eight Democrat men, have signed on to it.   Every one of our local Republican representatives – Bill Adolph, Joe Hackett, Nick Miccarelli, Nick Micozzie and Tom Killion – signed on.   Killion has since withdrawn and called for public hearings.  Thank you.  You can access their emails here:
Of our local representatives, only the two Democrats, Thaddeus Kirkland and Greg Vitali, have NOT signed on.   Thank you.   The bill passed the Committee on Health Feb. 6 by a 15-7 vote and is scheduled for a House vote March 12.

Rapp protects our right to know?!

 The bill was introduced by a woman, Rep. Kathy Rapp, a Republican, of course, who represents parts of Forest, McKean and Warren Counties (basically the Allegheny National Forest.  Wonder how many voters live there?).  
She claims that her only motivation in having the state require an ultrasound is to make sure women are fully informed before they decide to undergo an abortion.   
That’s plainly not true.   Abortion providers already routinely perform an (abdominal) ultrasound both because they have to determine gestational age under state law and because it’s sound medical practice.   
The state could have just amended that law to tell abortion providers “Make sure you make the little slut listen to the heartbeat.”
No, it’s not to inform us, it’s to humiliate and embarrass us, to demean us, to make us jump through hoops, to imply that we do not have the knowledge or wit to make decisions about our own bodies and to make us feel guilty about seeking an abortion, a legal medical procedure protected by the U.S. Constitution and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. 
By all means, email Rapp and let her know what you think of her condescending attitude toward her fellow women at  
You can also email Planned Parenthood at or call Marcia M. Hahn (717) 783-8573 and tell them to oppose House Bill 1077 and stop the attacks on women’s health once and for all!  By the way, if there’s a bus going to Harrisburg, I’m  on  it.
And you can sign a petition to halt the bill at:   More than 23,000 women and men have already signed it. 
I think we women, we sisterhood, we who believe that women have the right to control their own bodies and lives, we have come very late to the game of fighting for our rights state by state and year by year, a game the rightwing has been playing very well for four decades. 
Let’s get into this game now because it’s not a game, it’s our lives and our family’s lives and our rights and our freedom that are being threatened 24/7 by those who would impose their religious beliefs on us.  Because we’re women.