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.