I have had an abortion. Most people who know me know that. I’m very open about it and fervently pro-choice. I had to start my piece like this, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I’m not writing this post out of malice, but for educational purposes. I haven’t been able to find any other pieces on this subject, so maybe I’m wrong. If I am I would appreciate any readers to provide me with some cold hard medical facts. Okay?
Before my abortion I had a transvaginal ultrasound. This was in mid-2011, so before TVUs got famous. When I saw the device I was wary and my reaction was something along the lines of “woah what’s that? Do I have to have that because I don’t want it.” The woman said yes it was necessary for the procedure and she’s sorry. She didn’t say it was required by law or whatever, but that it was necessary. She didn’t show me the ultrasound or talk about it or even offer to. The whole thing was over in about two minutes. I had a surgical abortion at nine weeks and I was assured this was needed for my procedure.
Then eventually the TVU law proposals starting arriving and I was incredibly confused and hurt. Had something wrong been done to me? By that clinic? That clinic that saved my future? That clinic I was eternally grateful to? That clinic that advertises “comprehensive reproductive services in a supportive, nonjudgmental, knowledge-based environment?” That clinic that boasts that it has “the most experienced clinic staff in the region?” That clinic which is part of the National Abortion Federation?
All of these activists were and still are posting images of ultrasound wands with captions like “up mine? Up yours?” and talking about TVUs being a violation and comparing them to rape. This was/is really upsetting to me. I felt weirdly betrayed by my savior clinic. So I called them. I just briefly asked why they do TVUs and the clinic worker said because it was needed for the procedure. I felt pretty satisfied with that answer.
Of course I think this mandatory TVU legislation is terrible and wrong. It’s unethical for legislators with no medical expertise to be putting this into law. Since when are bills about medical procedure? Those are two entirely different fields. Where are the laws going into detail about thermometer or blood drawing procedure? Why is abortion any different? Why would a bill by those with no medical degree be dictating what practitioners do? Also, are states competing for the most ridiculous TVU bill? Now apparently there are bills requiring two TVUs.
Honestly I have not take part in this debate because it made me uncomfortable. The anti-choice side was clearly wrong, but for the first time I also felt the pro-choice side was wrong. They weren’t being outraged about the right things. They weren’t being outraged about why specifically this legislation was terrible instead they were just proclaiming TVUs were terrible. I don’t know why I’m talking in past tense. This is still going on. So, pro-choice activists are proclaiming that what is in some clinics vital to abortion is a violation and basically a desecration of human rights. They’re starting to sound like the anti-choicers to me. I mean what if legislators start listening? What if they start believing TVUs are a violation and try to ban them? What does that mean for the clinics that use them? Will abortion access become more difficult and expensive? Are these pro-choicers hurting the movement?
I’m working on expanding my knowledge. Nowhere on prochoice.org does it say TVUs are “medically unnecessary” like so many pro-choicers are claiming. This week I asked my abortion clinic for more in depth reasoning into their usage of TVUs. This was their response:
“There is no mandated law in TN that requires a vaginal ultrasound although they are trying to pass a law currently to require an ultrasound 24 – 72 hours before an abortion with the sound of a heart beat, verbal description of the u/s picture and a copy of the picture given to the patient. Here at [name removed] we routinely perform a vaginal ultrasound for patients who may be under 12 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound for patient who may be over 12 weeks. Because a patient can have missed a period and not be pregnant or can have a period and be pregnant, (it is possible to have periods all the way up until delivery) until we do an ultrasound we do not know for sure her gestational age. An accurate gestational age supports providing the best possible care for our patients. We do not however show her a picture, hear a heartbeat (which we don’t have the equipment for) or describe the u/s to the patient unless she requests it.”
Basically I’m demanding more education on this issue for everyone. Because honestly I’m offended that my supposed allies are telling me I was violated. It almost feels like they’re belittling rape. Why is it so difficult to find resources on this? Why can’t I find other articles with this viewpoint? Is it the abortion stigma? Are women not talking about it because they don’t feel comfortable talking about their abortion? Are abortion providers not coming forward so that they don’t disclose their profession and put themselves at risk? I’m concerned and I demand more information.