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Indiana Ultrasound Bill: Mandatory Double Ultrasound Switched to Just One

Last I checked, going to the OBGYN involved a cold duckbill apparatus, and was nothing like sexual intercourse, but I suppose in the last six months something could have changed, right?

No. 

So why is Sue Swayze, director of Indiana Right to Life, comparing transvaginal ultrasounds to consensual sex in her testimony to the Indiana Senate? It’s just the latest in a series of Republican attempts to circumvent state-by-state the Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal in the U.S.

Giving sexual intercourse a new level of romance and intimacy, Swayze declared, “I got pregnant vaginally … something else could come in my vagina for a medical test, that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me. So I find that argument (that it's intrusive) a little ridiculous…”

The not-even-remotely obscured attempt to close Indiana’s last health clinic providing abortions included two bills. The first, SB 371, would among other things, force the Lafayette Planned Parenthood clinic to be reclassified as an “abortion clinic” requiring essentially a complete facility reconstruction. The second, SB 486, would require new informed consent documentation including a color image of the fetus to be signed by the patient (because “black and white isn’t realistic enough”).

The latest version of the Indiana proposal was passed on Wednesday by the Indiana state Senate Health and Provider Services Committee. SB 371 and SB 489, if carried out, would mandate that any woman requesting the RU-486 pill — used to terminate early term pregnancies — would have to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound, before the pill was prescribed. The bill initially would have forced women having abortions to undergo two ultrasounds, one before and one after the procedure, but the second requirement was dropped Monday.

Regardless, there are a myriad of problems with pushing this kind of invasive procedure on women, not the least of which is that it works as a deterrent to those who are financially disadvantaged due to the extra costs incurred — transportation to and from the clinic, the cost of the pill and procedure, and then potentially a day of missed work to have the procedure done. The ultrasound can, from a medical standpoint, be replaced with simple blood tests to check health and hormone levels.

The two bills targeting this Planned Parenthood clinic are the latest attempts in Indiana to effectively end access to abortion. In October the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that Indiana could not block funding to Planned Parenthood simply because the organization performs abortions. The ruling overturned a bill signed by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels blocking Planned Parenthood’s access to federal money.

The politically remarkable thing about SB 371 and SB 489 is that the bills represent a growing trend in several red states to legally circumvent Roe v. Wade. While trends in Washington, D.C. indicate a move by mainstream Republicans in Congress away from discussing abortion, Republicans in state legislatures are doing the opposite. Eight states — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia — now require women who want an abortion to have an ultrasound, some of which are transvaginal. North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Arkansas have all begun the process of passing bills that impose unnecessary new regulations on clinics with the clearly stated hope of forcing the closure of the last remaining abortion-providing clinics in each state. Closing them would effectively negate Roe v. Wade in all four states.

Republicans in state legislatures are loudly and proudly proclaiming their goal to eliminate abortions within their state, and it seems, legally they're getting away with it. 

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