The Sounds of Texas

You know, just when the Texas Legislature is winning me over with an anti-groping law that has provoke the Feds into threatening to cancel flights, they go and do something like this:

Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday signed into law a measure requiring women seeking an abortion in the state to first get a sonogram.

Texas is one of several U.S. states with strong Republican legislative majorities proposing new restrictions on abortion this year. The Republican governor had designated the bill as an emergency legislative priority, putting it on a fast track.

Under the law, women will have to wait 24 hours after the sonogram before having an abortion, though the waiting time is two hours for those who live more than 100 miles (160 km) from an abortion provider.

I feel I need to referee some of the hysteria. First off, the reaction to this law is another illustration of why I hate bunking with the pro-choicers. They are right now screaming that this law is going to force doctors to perform “invasive” transvaginal ultrasounds and waving ultrasound probes around like they are Mardi Gras party favors.

But while I’d be more than happy to jump on the Evil Republicans Want To Jam Probes Into Women’s Twats bandwagon, I can’t. The thing is that pre-abortion ultrasound is pretty much the standard of care — yes, even, in the first 12 weeks, the “invasive” transvaginal version (which is humiliating and uncomfortable, but not any more invasive than a pap smear and certainly less invasive than a fucking abortion). Doctors need to know that a woman is pregnant before they can perform an abortion and they need to know where they’re going before they get in there. So, to repeat — pre-abortion sonogram is standard. Check out Planned Parenthood’s description if you don’t believe me.

What the Texas law does is change this from a standard to a requirement, put in a waiting period and require that doctors, in most cases, describe the fetus to the woman. Oppressive? Meh.

I’ve learned the hard way that, while I often agree with the pro-choicers, they can not be relied upon for good facts or reasonable perspective. They frequently decry as “an assault on women’s rights” abortion laws that are popular among pro-choicers such as parental notification laws and partial-birth abortion bans. They are unable to grasp that half of this country — including half of women — are pro-life and more than half of those who are pro-choice are well to the right of the “abortion on demand” crowd. So this is yet another illustration of how their nobel road to defend women’s uteri can be paved with lies.

I do agree that this bill is unnecessary. As I said, ultrasound is already standard procedure. Moreover, this is unlikely to deter any abortions. Most voluntary abortions take place very early in pregnancy, when a fetus is not very differentiated. Moreover, abortion providers tend not be to be very eager to turn patients away. They are notorious for ignoring rules they don’t like, as Live Action demonstrated with their hidden videos. And as we tragically found out with the Gosnell case, there aren’t exactly a lot of cops on the beat making sure they obey the law.

I remember when an informed consent law was passed in Minnesota and the first doctor to read it (with the press in attendance) did so sarcastically. I suspect that most providers will simply do their standard ultrasound and say, “there’s a fetus in there”. After all, who’s going to inform on them other than pro-life groups doing sting operations?

The main thing will be the waiting period. And this is something I actually favor and always have. If nothing else, waiting periods give women who get creeped out by abortion clinics — and they are creepifying — a chance to abandon ship. Women determined to get an abortion won’t change their mind but women on the fence might save themselves from a decision they’ll regret. We do the same thing in medicine with all voluntary procedures. I see no reason why abortion should be treated any differently

Now the natural question that occurred to me — and I’m sure has occurred to you — is this: why? Why is the Texas GOP, facing a $15 billion budgetary shortfall, screwing around with a pointless abortion law? Why are they burning their political capital on this fight? To the point of the governor designating it as an “emergency”?

I’ve though about this a lot lately, since we’re seeing this pattern in a lot of state legislatures and even at the federal level. And it comes down to something I tweeted yesterday:

Dirty secret of budget debate: everyone is hoping to stall long enough for the economy to fix things. Problem: Won’t work.

A large fraction of our budget problems are cause by a weak economy combined with a top-loaded tax system. This has crashed revenues around the country, especially at the federal level, where our tax base presently consists of about three people and their pet hamster, Bob. If the economy starts booming again, they think, most of the budget problems will go away. So why not stall and debate minor issues while waiting for that to happen, then take credit when it does?

The problem, of course, is that the economy may not boom for a long time. And in the meantime, we’re spending out the yin-yang and keeping revenues at levels unable to sustain present commitments, let alone future ones. So what this really amounts to if fiddling with the vaginas while Rome burns. That’s preferable to the Left’s preference for more stimulus spending based on the notion that the economic multiplier of government spending is infinity, but it’s not enough.

Not anymore.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    The very last thing we need is yet more government intrusion into health care. Quite simply, the government has zero business commenting one way or another about abortion. These laws are, without any question at all, 100% driven by religion, and should therefore be nullified.

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  2. Kimpost

    I have zero problems with a required ultrasound. But the waiting time disturbs me, as well as a requirement of describing the fetus(!). A woman who has made the very tough decision, to have an abortion don’t need to be lectured about the human features of the fetus. One could also ask if it is the governments job to provide a doctor with this kind of check list? I wonder if doctors are on board with this? I would think that it could make them feel uncomfortable.

    I also think that there’s a difference between waiting for a medical procedure, because of scheduling reasons, and waiting because of mandatory reflection time. The first is natural, the other isn’t.

    Now, being a reasonable guy, I could be talked into accepting both, but I need to be reassured that this is not an effort trying to stigmatize abortion, or more importantly, the women who have decided to have one performed. It’s difficult enough for them as it is.There’s no need to add additional stigma.

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  3. AlexInCT

    As a parent of an adopted son that switched his views on abortion, I still do not like government involved in legislating morality, and as SO points out forcing healthcare decisions on people. Then again, I also vehemently object to government funding these things too, but too many of the people that seem to object to government passing laws on this stuff, especially on the side that see it simply as another form of birth control, don’t mind that and even demand more of it, and that pisses me off even more.

    It has always baffled me why so many social conservatives that hate big government, justifiably in my opinion, want to use it to legislate morality – something I think is not just a sign of a clear double standard and a practice that’s just slightly less dangerous than the practice on the other side of having government try to enforce “social justice” – and think they are doing good. Seriously, unless it’s clearly criminal, and treated as such, leave it be.

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  4. Jim

    *Every* law legislates morality. That argument doesn’t hold up when you examine the law, and the basis for most current laws around the world. As a society, people decided that stealing from someone else is “wrong”. People decided that just because you are smarter, bigger, more cruel, etc, doesn’t mean you can kill, steal, cheat, etc and get away with it. Often times people try to then respond with “well, all of those things are done to other people, that’s why they are wrong, you are infringing on someone else’s rights.” Regardless, we are legislating the morality of whether it is right or wrong to infringe on someone’s rights. Further, if you *truly believe* the unborn is a person, then doesn’t it completely follow that abortion falls under murder, and that it is the ultimate infringement upon the unborn’s rights? I fail to see how defending life, and using the law to do it, is a double standard.
    And in regards to the early ultrasounds, I have personally seen live ultrasound of a 6 week gestation child. There is enough detail to make it obvious that it is not a “glob of cells” but a tiny child growing in there.

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  5. AlexInCT

    *Every* law legislates morality. That argument doesn’t hold up when you examine the law, and the basis for most current laws around the world.

    Obamacare? Oh wait. That’s the “Thou shalt have no other god except for liberalism and big government” commandment. So never mind. You win.

    But I think where we diverge is that I feel that the legislation of morality is a doomed enterprise. Follow along and I will explain why.

    As a society, people decided that stealing from someone else is “wrong”. People decided that just because you are smarter, bigger, more cruel, etc, doesn’t mean you can kill, steal, cheat, etc and get away with it.

    No, you can only get away with it if you are a member of the elite political class, especially the democratic party, or one of their buddies that contributes big time.

    Seriously again, I think that in this case the legislation against stealing isn’t so much to force people to accept this moral view as it is to punish those that refuse to accept the premise that stealing is wrong, and go ahead and do it anyway. Yeah, it might sound like splitting hairs, but we are not throwing people who refuse to get an ultrasound of their fetus into jail, even though the left will tell you denying women the right to kill their unborn babies is worse than that. Let’s move along.

    Often times people try to then respond with “well, all of those things are done to other people,

    Agree that this is a weak ass premise for defending that argument.

    Further, if you *truly believe* the unborn is a person, then doesn’t it completely follow that abortion falls under murder, and that it is the ultimate infringement upon the unborn’s rights? I fail to see how defending life, and using the law to do it, is a double standard.

    Oh, I believe killing the unborn is murder, but right now the chance to convince enough people it is so morally, without having to pass laws to force it first, is a problem. As an agnostic I figure Karma or some higher power will deal with those that feel they have a right to this, and if not, then the universe just sucks. So, if you believe abortion is murder, do what it takes to convince the great majority it is such, then codify punishment when you disregard this as such. What we have these days is half assed measures that are intended to chip away at the left’s morally imposed mandate that abortion is about women’s freedom to choose.

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  6. Seattle Outcast

    Laws are generally created on the premise that some actions harm others – therefore, anything that does not harm another should be legal. Take a look at your classic crimes – they all deprive people of something for the benefit of another, with no compensation. It’s when you get into the “victimless” crimes that is apparent that government has overstepped.

    Good examples are prostitution, prohibition, blue laws restricting business on Sunday, smoking and food restrictions, and censorship. You can’t make an argument that anybody would actually be harmed without these laws – their only effect is to make people live in a manner that you approve of.

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  7. Rann

    I don’t think you can say this “stigmatizes” abortion. It’s not like they’re mandating that the doctors have to inform these women that by some peoples’ estimates, they’re going to Hell.

    What exactly is wrong with a mandatory reflection period? Are women incapable of keeping their minds made up? Is it inherently wrong if they change their minds because of this reflection period? It’s a day… they’re not making them wait a month so that the fetus will have more fully-fledged features to shame them with on the next visit. If someone was going to undergo some life-changing procedure like having their nose radically altered or giant silicone tits put in or having some bit of them removed as elective surgery, would you want that to be a drive-through procedure or would you want them to have at least a day to think it over?

    The thing is, I think this is intended to make sure that it is a difficult procedure. And you know what, I’m okay with that… not to punish, or to stigmatize, but because some decisions need to be difficult. Women have the right to an abortion, but I can’t disagree with doing something to drive home the gravity of exercising that right and making sure they actually, truly want to exercise it rather than taking another option, and aren’t just convincing themselves that they’re doing the equivalent of having a wart removed.

    Rather than stigmatizing abortion, this seems to be trying to make people reconsider abortion as birth control, which I find abhorrent for a number of reasons. It’s not like they’re saying “Oh, and we’ll post a picture of the fetus and a picture of yourself up on a website, to let people know what you did.” This is a private procedure and requirement between doctor and patient, and taken in good faith it’s a way of saying “There’s no changing your mind afterward, are you sure about this? Take some time to think it over, then if you’re sure, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

    The worst you can say about this is that it makes abortion a harder decision to make. Well, sorry, but I’m okay with that. And again, it’s not because I think these women are bad people, or need to be shamed or punished, or anything like that… but I can’t argue with them being made to understand the gravity of what they’re doing and being given some time to make sure they really want to do it.

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  8. Kimpost

    I don’t think you can say this “stigmatizes” abortion. It’s not like they’re mandating that the doctors have to inform these women that by some peoples’ estimates, they’re going to Hell.

    What exactly is wrong with a mandatory reflection period? Are women incapable of keeping their minds made up? Is it inherently wrong if they change their minds because of this reflection period? It’s a day… they’re not making them wait a month so that the fetus will have more fully-fledged features to shame them with on the next visit.

    It’s not necessarily stigmatizing, but if the intent of the law is to push an agenda (pro life), then there’s a danger for its implementation becoming stigmatizing. You’ve got to admit that it seems kind of odd, to mandate that a doctor must describe features of the fetus. If it’s not medically relevant, and if the doctor feels that the information would be stressful for the patient, should he really still be required to, because of a government mandate? Is that right?

    If someone was going to undergo some life-changing procedure like having their nose radically altered or giant silicone tits put in or having some bit of them removed as elective surgery, would you want that to be a drive-through procedure or would you want them to have at least a day to think it over?

    I would normally like for them to take the time needed to think things over. Perhaps even more than a day. But ultimately I think this should be decided by doctor and patient, not by government mandates.

    Rather than stigmatizing abortion, this seems to be trying to make people reconsider abortion as birth control, which I find abhorrent for a number of reasons.

    My general view is that this is virtually non-existent. Having an abortion is not a small thing. No sane woman uses it as a form of birth control.

    The worst you can say about this is that it makes abortion a harder decision to make.

    As I said, I’m mostly worried about possible implications of the law. The general climate does not need to become more stigmatizing than it already is.

    If we, for the sake of the discussion flip the issue 180 degrees, would you then find it absurd? Here goes.

    Would you be OK with a law mandating informing all pregnant women on alternatives to having a child? Not advocating abortion or adoption, mind you, but just informing them on the alternatives?

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  9. Jim

    It’s not necessarily stigmatizing, but if the intent of the law is to push an agenda (pro life), then there’s a danger for its implementation becoming stigmatizing. You’ve got to admit that it seems kind of odd, to mandate that a doctor must describe features of the fetus. If it’s not medically relevant, and if the doctor feels that the information would be stressful for the patient, should he really still be required to, because of a government mandate? Is that right?

    I had eye surgery a couple years back. The doctor described, in detail, exactly what they would be doing to my eyes. And believe me, if that doesn’t make you nervous as hell, nothing will. “We’re going to take this really thin razor and *cut the lens off your eye* and then use a *laser* to burn your eye into the proper shape. Then we’ll put it all back.” And that was just for eye surgery. It seems to me they should *definitely* have to describe more serious procedures to the patient as a matter of liability if nothing else.

    My general view is that this is virtually non-existent. Having an abortion is not a small thing. No sane woman uses it as a form of birth control.

    Check out the statistics on women who have repeat abortions.

    According to the CDC numbers above, 45% of women having abortions had previously had at least 1 abortion. I, personally, would consider that birth control. Also, if you look up some of the statistics on *why* women have abortions, most fall into the category of “don’t want” for the most part.

    Would you be OK with a law mandating informing all pregnant women on alternatives to having a child? Not advocating abortion or adoption, mind you, but just informing them on the alternatives?

    That’s a false premise. You are basically demanding someone consider an elective procedure whereas the law in question demands someone considering *not* having an elective procedure.
    And, sadly enough, doctors *are* required to suggest an abortion if *any* pre-natal issue is discovered. If they don’t, they can, and have, been sued. People with Down Syndrome babies have come back to sue the docs because they were not informed they could simply kill their baby off before hand. As a result, it is mandatory that a woman be told (and sometimes urged) to have an abortion in the event *any* issue comes up.

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  10. Rann

    Would you be OK with a law mandating informing all pregnant women on alternatives to having a child? Not advocating abortion or adoption, mind you, but just informing them on the alternatives?

    Would you be OK with a law saying that the death penalty is an option for all crimes? Not advocating actually putting it on the table in all cases, but just giving the judge other options than jail or a fine?

    Because that’s about as ridiculous as that comparison.

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  11. Kimpost

    I had eye surgery a couple years back. The doctor described, in detail, exactly what they would be doing to my eyes. And believe me, if that doesn’t make you nervous as hell, nothing will. “We’re going to take this really thin razor and *cut the lens off your eye* and then use a *laser* to burn your eye into the proper shape. Then we’ll put it all back.” And that was just for eye surgery. It seems to me they should *definitely* have to describe more serious procedures to the patient as a matter of liability if nothing else.

    Yeah, but that’s all presumably relevant to the procedure. And/or to you personally, naturally following a patient-doctor relationship. If the doctor feels that you don’t need to hear (because it would be stressful) a specific insignificant detail, I’m sure he’d be allowed to leave it out. Obviously risks and possible complications need to be disclosed.

    [abortion stats]

    Having more than one abortion is not enough for calling it birth control, in my opinion.

    That’s a false premise. You are basically demanding someone consider an elective procedure whereas the law in question demands someone considering *not* having an elective procedure.

    I’m aware that my parallel wasn’t perfect. I partly used it because of its apparent absurdity; I obviously wouldn’t agree with anything of the likes. I do however, believe that the issues bear similarities. They are both about mandating informing patients on something medically irrelevant. If I were a physician (disregarding personal feelings on abortion), I would find the Texas mandate troubling.

    And as a non-physician I am worried about possible stigmatization of women having abortions. That wouldn’t be right. If this can be handled in a way where such stigma is avoided, then I’m fine with it. I just doubt that it can or that it will be.

    Texans, watch it carefully.

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  12. drunkkus

    Meh. I’m definitely not for any more government intrusion even though I personally think abortion is just plain wrong, so I’m not getting into any of that. I will say, though, that I think informed consent laws can help to protect doctors who perform abortions from litigation. Considering all of the bullshit and misinformation coming from both sides of the abortion argument, if I was a doctor, I wouldn’t take for granted that any woman has all of the relevant facts about the procedure, which is a requirement to obtain informed consent. It wouldn’t take a law for me to give the woman as much information as I could.

    AFAIK, it hasn’t taken any kind of special law to get any doctor I’ve ever seen to show me x-rays of the broken bones and stuff I’ve had. Also I sure can’t imagine a doctor removing a brain or stomach tumor without showing and describing it to the patient beforehand and going over any of the consequences for that kind of procedure. If I’m not mistaken, in Japan a surgeon is required to show a woman her uterus after it’s been removed by hysterectomy or at least it’s common practice that they do.

    Speaking of hysterectomy, I have always wondered why women who use abortion for birth control (which is most of them) don’t just go all out and opt for one.

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  13. Kimpost

    […]I have always wondered why women who use abortion for birth control (which is most of them) don’t just go all out and opt for one.

    Which is what, now?

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  14. drunkkus

    Most of them. I didn’t stutter or misspel it, but I guess what I really meant was all abortions are a form of birth control.

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