Quick Hit: One woman’s experience with Texas’ new mandatory ultrasound law

*Trigger warning*

Here’s a rule: When you, as legislators with neither professional medical experience nor personal experience being pregnant, pass laws that result in doctors and nurses repeatedly apologizing to sobbing women, you’re doing something wrong.

“I am so sorry,” the young woman said with compassion, and nudged the tissues closer. Then, after a moment’s pause, she told me reluctantly about the new Texas sonogram law that had just come into effect. I’d already heard about it. The law passed last spring but had been suppressed by legal injunction until two weeks earlier.

My counselor said that the law required me to have another ultrasound that day, and that I was legally obligated to hear a doctor describe my baby. I’d then have to wait 24 hours before coming back for the procedure. She said that I could either see the sonogram or listen to the baby’s heartbeat, adding weakly that this choice was mine.

“I don’t want to have to do this at all,” I told her. “I’m doing this to prevent my baby’s suffering. I don’t want another sonogram when I’ve already had two today. I don’t want to hear a description of the life I’m about to end. Please,” I said, “I can’t take any more pain.” I confess that I don’t know why I said that. I knew it was fait accompli. The counselor could no more change the government requirement than I could. Yet here was a superfluous layer of torment piled upon an already horrific day, and I wanted this woman to know it.

In this horrifying case, the woman was terminating a much-wanted pregnancy. But it only takes a little imagination – and I suppose the compassion that anti-choice politicians have shown they clearly can’t muster – to think of other reasons patients and doctors might not want clueless politicians inserting their own views into the doctor’s office. As Carolyn Jones asks, “Shouldn’t women have a right to protect themselves from strangers’ opinions on their most personal matters?”

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4 Comments

  1. Posted March 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Might I suggest a trigger warning on this piece? It’s important, but I know that this would have triggered some deep felt pain and trauma to a friend of mine who went through a similar experience in Ohio. It’s an important piece, but that might ease some pain for some Feministing readers…

    • Posted March 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Elizabeth, I’ve added a warning.

  2. Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    So, when do we see Republican’s defending a conscience exemption for Doctors required to assault and shame women. They try let freaking pharmacists opt out of offering birth control pills, where are they standing up for letting doctors opt out of this?

    I’d love to see Rachel Maddow or someone else in the media ask this question loud and clear.

  3. Posted March 18, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Where does the sonogram fit in? Is it a requirement to fit in with certain aspects of abortion guidelines, such as determining the age of the fetus? Are methods available to determine the age of the fetus, that do not require a sonogram?

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