Friday, February 17, 2012

Republican General Assembly Attacking Our Freedom

Yes, Virginia, elections have consequences. And so, while many progressive voters who in 2008 elected Barack Obama to the presidency and Mark Warner to the United States Senate chose to stay home on election day in 2011 (for the third consecutive year), our Republican brothers and sisters captured control of the Virginia Senate. Now, the residents of the Commonwealth will be saddled with the consequences of the right wing agenda of the Republican Party—perhaps for a long time. This maven fears that scores of repressive Republican bills, which in previous years were blocked in the Democratic-controlled Senate, will become law this year. I can, and probably will at some time, talk about many of these bills. But right now, I just want to talk about one of them.

HB 462, as it passed the House of Delegates, is entitled “A BILL to amend and reenact § 18.2-76 of the Code of Virginia, relating to ultrasound requirement as part of informed consent for abortion.” The operative language of the bill states that

“at least 24 hours before the performance of an abortion a qualified medical professional trained in sonography and working under the direct supervision of a physician licensed in the Commonwealth shall perform fetal ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services on the patient undergoing the abortion for the purpose of determining gestational age.”

The bill does provide for exceptions in the case of a medical emergency, and states that if a pregnant woman lives 100 or more miles from the abortion facility the ultrasound may be performed not less than two hours before the abortion.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear that this maven is opposed to abortion. I understand that abortion ends a potential human life and I would much prefer that a pregnant woman not choose to end her pregnancy. However, I feel very strongly that whether a woman is to terminate or continue her pregnancy is not my decision. Further, I feel equally strongly that whether that woman is to continue or terminate her pregnancy is not a decision to be made by the Commonwealth of Virginia or any other government. Rather, it is a decision that a woman must make herself, with the advice of family, friends and her medical professional.

Obviously this maven has never been pregnant. However, I have been the recipient of ultrasound examination, most recently just before my former gall bladder was separated from my body. Although ultrasound is not the worst medical procedure I have ever undergone, it is also not the most pleasant. First they make sure you are scantily clothed. Then they put you in a room that is invariably uncomfortably cold. Then they expose part of your body and inundate you with a foul-smelling glop. Then they apply the ultrasound wand and move it around your body, often pressing hard enough to cause pain. They make you roll from left to right to make sure they get the best possible “picture.” By the time the test is over, you feel cold, sore and soiled.

And, our Republican brothers and sisters in the General Assembly, who constantly preach that they want to get the government out of our lives, are about to force this invasive medical test on every woman in the Commonwealth who has decided to terminate her pregnancy. It is bad enough that a woman has made perhaps the most difficult decision in her life and will probably always carry the emotional scars that go with it. On top of that, our “anti-government” Republican delegates and senators now want to force on her an intrusive and degrading medical procedure. Cannot a woman in Republican-controlled Virginia be free from state-mandated medical tests?

Trusted reader, the next time a Virginia Republican claims that his or her party favors freedom from state intrusion into our lives, remind him or her of HB 462 and ask what further invasions of our liberty they are planning.