Tag: ultrasound

Rush Limbaugh and Slut-Shaming

I’m sure you’ve heard about Rush Limbaugh’s increasingly provocative comments on birth control. In brief, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified that birth control pills cost a typical woman about $3000 over a three year timescale and that this was quite a burden for students. Some Right Wing idiot calculated how many condoms that would buy (several thousand) and yucked it up about just how much birth control she needed and how much sex she was having. It was an extremely stupid analysis, since birth control pills cost the same whether you have sex every day or not at all. And they are, on occasion, prescribed therapeutically, such as when a woman is undergoing fertility treatments or having some procedure — like chemotherapy — in which getting pregnant would be dangerous.

But then Limbaugh picked that stupidity up and ran with it, saying the girl essentially wanted to be paid to have sex. And when called on it, he doubled down, joking that she should send the taxpayers a sex tape in repayment for their sponsoring of all the sex she was having.

There are several aspects to this and I’d like to turn it over a few times before putting it down and walking away. First, I agree with what Ken at Popehat said last night on Twitter. At this point, Rush Limbaugh is clearly power trolling, saying provocative things to get attention and ratings. I know Rush’s show enough to know when he’s being facetious. This is clearly not meant literally (not that this excuses the gross misogyny of the remarks).

However, that in itself is shameful. As I said on Twitter, there used to be a time when Rush Limbaugh didn’t need to do this shit to be relevant. During the mid-90’s, Rush was at the epicenter of our political world. And the reason was because he was fucking brilliant. He had facts and arguments on his side. He relished the debate. He gloried in skewering the Clintons and their myriad supporters. And he argued persuasively for many of the policies we eventually enacted. The Left always claimed he was “spewing hate” but he wasn’t. He was upbeat, optimistic and grounded in facts and data. And it was clear that the Clintons, at least, knew this. They fed him information during the NAFTA debate. And they started dumping policies and press releases at 3:00 pm on Fridays so they would have three days to spin it before Rush could comment.

Now his show is more bitter and angry, less about ideas than about bombast. And this is just the apotheosis. It’s like watching a fading athlete take steroids to try to regain his former glory. It’s just sad.

But, let’s turn this issue over again. People are outraged about what Rush Limbaugh said and that’s fine. They should be. But where is the comparable outrage to the Left referring to a standard medical procedure as “rape”.

Pro-choice commentators have called the transvaginal form of ultrasound that’s standard early in pregnancy “rape,” “forced vaginal penetration,” and an “unnecessary medical procedure” in response to bills in Virginia and elsewhere that would, practically speaking, require all abortion recipients to undergo an ultrasound by this method.

But I have considerable concerns about what calling these ultrasounds “rape” and “unnecessary” will mean for abortion patients and providers. The reality is that most abortion patients do receive an ultrasound to date their pregnancies. Since most abortions take place in the first trimester of pregnancy, many of these ultrasounds are performed with a transvaginal probe, the most effective method for viewing early-stage pregnancies.

But now that women have heard abortion supporters describe this form of ultrasound as “rape,” will more of them be terrified when they arrive at a clinic and are informed they will have such a procedure? Or might they be scared off altogether? Will abortion clinic staff who perform the ultrasound be seen as “rapists,” as the provider I mentioned earlier worried? This is a possibility not lost on the anti-abortion website LifeNews, which recently ran the headline, “If Ultrasound is Rape, Arrest Planned Parenthood Staffers.”

For the Left to compare the forcible sexual violation of a woman to a standard medical procedure is far more deeply offensive than anything Rush Limbaugh has said. And the thing is that they mean it. This is not a joke or an exaggeration for comic effect. This is a tactic, plain and simple. But it has generated a thousandth of the outrage reserved for some radio guy talking out of his ass.

Really, I am disgusted by this entire debate. I’m disgusted that our government is trying to mandate insurance coverage. It doesn’t matter if it’s birth control or metamucil: the principle is wrong, stupid, expensive and anti-free market. If I ran a business, I’d get insurance that covered birth control. But I don’t want to see that mandated. I don’t want to see any coverage mandated.

I’m further disgusted with the President for choosing this fight. He could have chosen anything to start the coverage mandate fight on. But he chose birth control because he knew what would happen: we would end up in a debate about birth control and not one about economics. Remember when playing political games with women’s health was a bad thing?

And I’m finally disgusted with the Republicans for stepping right into the bear trap. They could have framed this debate the right way: being about economics and not religion. They could be proposing a bill that suspends all federal coverage mandates. But instead they got bogged down in this stupid culture war bullshit. And now we are all paying the price. Not just politically … but economically. Because by fighting over birth control, they have left untouched the basic idea that government can dictate what kind of insurance we can buy.

And so, in the end, the loser in this situation is not Limbaugh, who is gaining attention. It’s not Obama or even the GOP, who are able to rally their bases. It’s us … all of us … everyone who has an economic stake in this country. Because while we’ve been looking the other way, another bit of our freedom has been swiped out from under us.

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.