Doonesbury: Texas Invasive Abortion Law
Recently, a Doonesbury ‘comic strip’ rekindled my curiosity toward the Texas Law regarding Abortion procedures for women residents of the state. Prior to Mr. Trudeau’s controversial depiction of the Texas law, censored by a multitude of publications, I had been under a false impression. My assumption was predicated upon the notion an ‘ultrasound’ differentiated procedurally from a ‘Transvaginal’ sonogram.
In May of 2011, the Wall Street Journal Online ran an article regarding the Texas Legislature Bill, which would add conditions to women seeking an abortion. The prominent conditions included a compulsory sonogram in addition to a personified description regarding the stage of development of the fetus. The Bill’s sponsor, State Senator Dan Patrick, rationalized this legislature saying; "We believe that when they see the miracle of life some will change their minds."
The Center for Reproductive Rights took issue with this point of view. They cited the lack of evidence to support Ultrasounds affect a women’s decision concerning abortion. Furthermore, their organization contends the legislature violates patient rights and interferes with the doctor-patient relationship. Additionally, they threatened to take legal action similar to a lawsuit filed in Oklahoma, asserting it violated ‘state constitutional guarantees’ regarding patient privacy and a physician’s right to free speech.
Within a week, Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law.
A May 2011 article in the “Huffington Post” alluded to the fact, 14 similar state bills have been introduced thus far. The Texas mandate is described as the most extreme with respect to sonogram procedural laws to include Arizona and Louisiana. (Arizona, what…wait, what? I live in Arizona; I would argue vehemently, I of all people do not live under a rock. How in the hell did I miss that? This is really quite disconcerting!) The point of my digression being, these laws are most effective flying under the radar!
The Texas Tribune in a February 2012 piece examined the Texas Law regarding the sedentary response when compared to the Virginia bill’s public outrage. The argument, Texas being a Deep Red State, while Virginia was a Swing State, seemed to me untenable.
The Texas Abortion conditions, although more strict than those in the Virginia proposal, did not stipulate one specific item; The Invasive procedure. “…Texas law doesn’t specify what kind of ultrasound — belly or transvaginal — abortion providers say they almost always must use the transvaginal probe to pick up the heartbeat and describe the fetus at the early stage of pregnancy when most women seek abortions.”
Opponents in the Virginia legislature made this a monumental issue, giving their counterparts every opportunity to rescind or modify the language in the bill. This provided a platform for national debate and cemented the discourse of the “War on women” campaign.
Comic Strips can be a funny thing on so many levels. In an interview with the Washington Post regarding his controversial Doonesbury piece of work, Garry Trudeau summed it up thusly:
“Texas’s HB-15 isn’t hard to explain: The bill says that in order for a woman to obtain a perfectly legal medical procedure, she is first compelled by law to endure a vaginal probe with a hard, plastic 10-inch wand. The World Health Organization defines rape as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration — even if slight — of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.” You tell me the difference.”