Want an RU 486 pill? That will be two forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds, please.

RU 486 is a non-surgical early abortion medication that comes in the form of a pill and is generally used to end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks from a woman’s last period. So, naturally, a bill, approved by Indiana’s state Senate Health and Provider Services Committee on Wednesday, would require clinics to conduct trans-vaginal ultrasounds on women both before and after dispensing the pill.  Senate Bill 371 passed by a vote of 7 to 5, and will next be voted on by the full state Senate. Specifically, the bill would require women to be presented with the sound and image of the fetal heartbeat before the abortion and to return for another ultrasound to ensure that she is no longer pregnant.

The bill makes no medical sense, whatsoever, and is a clear attempt to discourage women from taking RU 486, by adding two unnecessary trips to an abortion clinic and two unnecessary uncomfortable procedures to it. Dr. Anne Davis, the consulting medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Health, explained,

“[a woman who has taken RU 486] can do a blood test at any local facility after an abortion to show that the hormone levels are going down as they should, there’s no medical reason to make her drive back to the abortion clinic and go through another ultrasound…. This is yet another onerous, medically unnecessary barrier.”

Davis also pointed out that, like so many things in life, it puts a disproportionate burden on poorer women, who have to come up with the access and money for transportation, possible childcare and possibly miss work to get to the clinic.

But the bill makes total sense, when you look at it in the right distorting and blinding light. Sue Swayze, the legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, thinks the forced trans-vaginal ultra sounds are totes kosher and any arguments against them are just stupid. As she explains,

I got pregnant vaginally…. Something else could come in my vagina for a medical test that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me. So I find that argument a little ridiculous.

Consensual sex, forced probing with a foreign object, same thing! This lady must have a great sex life.

Also, check out Rachel Maddow’s excellent take-down of the bill here. No transcript available yet but I will update if I find one.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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