Does Oklahoma’s abortion law legalize rape?

Tenured Radical has a really interesting post up about the latest anti-choice law in Oklahoma that requires women to undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion.

If, in order to obtain a perfectly legal abortion, a woman must permit herself to be penetrated by an ultrasound probe — in whatever way, or for however long, the technician and doctor wish to do so, that seems to me to be what statute 21-114 of the Oklahoma Criminal Code defines as rape by instrumentation. This act (putting an object in a vagina, anus or mouth against that person’s will) is explicitly defined as rape in the first or second degree.
Coercing a woman into being raped with an object, for whatever reason, is, in fact, rape: this was first established in State v. Rusk (1979), which transformed the legal and popular view of what counted as forced sex by defining as rape any unwanted sexual intercourse, even if a man believed that a woman ought to give it up in return for the drinks and dinner he had purchased earlier in the evening. And by the way? Although it has been technically invalidated by Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Oklahoma still has a sodomy statute on the books too.

What do you think?

Join the Conversation

  • Phenicks

    I’d hope anyone who is about to suction away at my uterus has a clear picture of exactly what they are suctioning away so as not to rip off something that I want like a piece of my uterine wall.
    Seriously the only problem with this isn’t requiring an ultrasound, its requiring the ultrasound image to be shown to the person seeking an abortion and an explaination of that image. Equating this to rape is greatly trivializing rape there is NEVER a mnedical reason to rape someone as there is to require an ultrasound to perform a surgical procesdure.

  • shanaynay

    Oh, no, I gotcha. I’m profoundly annoyed by the situation, not at what you said — I just didn’t edit for tone well. I’m sorry! I think we pretty much agree. I don’t like to call it rape, I just don’t know what else to call it that adequately conveys the odiousness of it. I think it leans way, way too far toward rape. Mandated penetration is…I just hate to come up with some sort of wishy-washy sanitized middle-ground term, because middle-ground feels like slippery-slope, and if we give any sign that we see this too significantly differently from rape, I don’t think that says “NOOOOO” strongly enough, KWIM? If we give a millimeter, militant anti-rights activists will try to take miles and miles and miles. (See: these bills, only more numerous and maybe more odious! [No, I'm not coming up with something more odious, but I bet somebody here in the "great" state of Oklahoma has some ideas....])

  • shanaynay

    I don’t think anybody has ever been pro-abortion, it’s not murder, they’re not babies yet, and you might be on the wrong site. If you want to have a nice discussion, that’s fine, but you don’t really sound like that’s your goal.

  • LaraStar

    But….. they need to have an ultrasound to determine the placement of the embryo, how far along she is… etc. I think it’s necessary. Would you like someone to go in there blindly?

  • Synna

    Heres the thing,
    There’s no part of the pill that’s going to make a woman spontaneously combust if there’s something wrong with her cervix and she’s taking it.
    It’s not the same as say having your blood pressure taken before being given the pill (as some types of the pill can cause slightly higher blood pressure)

  • Asteri

    If an individual is raped and is required to undergo this type of penetration (whether or not we define it as rape) in order to access a perfectly legal abortion, this could be so triggering.

  • eir

    Completely agree.
    This is why I never even tried hormonal BC – I can’t handle a pelvic exam, due to being raped by my pediatrician. I got an IUD after getting drunk and taking Valium, and I guess I’ll do it again once my time’s up…but it will still be rape in my mind. For an IUD, yes, exams/ultrasound are necessary, but for OCPs they are definitely NOT. Yes, it’s a good idea to have a pelvic exam, but it’s frankly so traumatic to me that I’d rather risk cancer. And that’s after nearly 15 years of therapy.
    (side note: if I truly had my way, I’d never go at all because I’d never have sex again. But I’m married, and I want to make my husband happy, so…)
    So yes, I definitely think that both coercion to have an ultrasound and coercion to have a pelvic exam are rape.

  • eir

    This. Thank you.