Women of Tennessee, We are Screwed

Dear World,

I write to you out of such deep despair I don’t even know where to start.  I read Jeff Woods’s post an hour ago and I’m still so angry I’m shaking.

I’ll just quote:

Q: What else?

Fowler: There are other things we could do as well if this resolution passes that we probably could not do under Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist. For example, many states now are requiring doctors to inform women that they’ve performed an ultrasound and that they have the right to see that ultrasound. Many women think it’s just a blog [sic]of cells or tissues. But literally within eight days, I think you can notice the heartbeat on the sonogram and when they begin to understand the truth about what is inside their body, they recognize it as a human being and a child. That kind of law probably would not be constitutional under Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist.

Women of Tennessee, I don’t care where you stand on the abortion issue.  I just want you to read that and see it for what it is.  Fowler CANNOT EVEN BOTHER TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT GOES ON BETWEEN A WOMAN AND HER DOCTOR BUT HE THINKS HE SHOULD GET TO SET THE LAWS TO GOVERN IT.  Just let that evil sink in.  He cannot even bother to get his facts straight, he can’t be bothered to learn about what you might go through if you have an abortion, he can just make shit THAT IS PLAINLY NOT TRUE.  Just demonstrably false.  LIES, lies, lies.

He can just lie, plain and bald-faced and make shit up and not even be bothered to learn about what you might go through when you go to the gynecologist and he and his buddies are going to win.

He doesn’t even give enough of a shit about you to bother to learn what you go through and he’s going to get laws that affect you passed.  He can’t even be bothered to learn basic science, and he gets to govern your body.

Let’s start with the “requiring doctors to inform women that they’ve performed an ultrasound.”  Most women have abortions in the first trimester.  In order to perform the abortion, her doctor does an ultrasound, at the least, to determine the age of the fetus.  In the first trimester, the fetus is so tiny that it cannot be seen using an abdominal ultrasound.  As you know, the doctor will therefore almost always perform a vaginal ultrasound on you.  There is no way you won’t know that they’re performing the ultrasound.  But Fowler doesn’t know that.  He’s apparently gotten his information on how doctors work from television, so you’re going to be ruled by laws set by a guy who doesn’t know basic gynecological procedures.

He can’t bother to learn that there’s not a heartbeat until 21 days after conception.  So, he just makes up 8 days, because he’s too lazy to learn the truth and anyway, he’s too busy protecting us stupid, stupid cows from ourselves.

And that’s what burns me.  He thinks that, if we only had more knowledge–the very knowledge HE CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO EVEN FUCKING ACQUIRE–we wouldn’t have abortions.

But it’s beneath him to worry about the details or the truth of what he wants to force us to know.

And yet, he’s going to get his way.  He’s a lazy, condescending liar who can’t even be bothered to learn about the stuff he wants to force on women and he’s going to win.

God damn, that burns me.  It insults me so deeply that some man–who will never be faced with this decision and who can’t even bother to learn enough about it to get his facts straight–is going to make the laws we have to live by.  Damn it’s insulting to the core.

But then, let’s look at the second half of the problem.  There’s not a woman in this state who hasn’t been through one kind of gynecological problem or another, even if she’s never had nor would ever have an abortion,  who would hear what Fowler says and not say to herself–“But wouldn’t they have to do a vaginal ultrasound?  Um, of course they would.  And wouldn’t a doctor already tell her what she’s doing and why?  And wouldn’t a woman notice that?”

It’s not Jeff Woods’s fault that he’s not a woman.  And it’s not his fault that he didn’t know, so it didn’t sound funny to him.  But he’s who Fowler’s sitting down with to spew this bullshit.  And he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know to be able to press Fowler about it.

And what do you do in the face of that?

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27 thoughts on “Women of Tennessee, We are Screwed

  1. AuntB, If you allowed your doctor to do an ultrasound, and the doctor says, “AuntB, you remember that ultrasound you allowed me to perform? You can see it if you want.” What’s the big deal? There are so many uneducated people in Tennessee that it might be nice to require a doctor advise the patient that they have a right to their own medical files in whatever format they exist.

  2. “Oh, BTW, Mrs. Slavetothestate, I stuck a six inch long plastic covered probe into your vagina, hooked it up to a computer monitor the size of a small telivision and wiggled that probe around. I pressed the vaginal walls hard to get a clearer picture and commented at what I saw. I think you may not have noticed so I thought I should tell you. “

  3. Hmm, let’s see, Mr Fowler, you don’t think a woman knows when a vaginal ultrasound has been done and she needs to be informed of that fact. OK, then the next time you have to have your prostate checked, and the doctor sticks his finger up your ass and wiggles it around, we’ll be sure that a law is passed that said doctor has to inform you of the fact.

  4. they have a right to see that ultrasound

    Excuse me? This person is claiming that someone has been preventing women who want to have an ultrasound done from having the procedure or seeing the pictures?* And they haven’t complained, or said that they don’t want to go ahead with anything unless they see the pictures? Who are these poor, victimized women he’s trying to protect here, and shouldn’t the solution be assertiveness training rather than forced ultrasounds?

    *Has the fool ever had an ultrasound done for any reason whatsoever? The techs are all the time asking you if you want to see, and if you’re in a funny position so you can’t, they show you when you get up — even when the ultrasound is being done for potentially very dangerous stuff. That’s been my experience, at least.

  5. I just get so sad reading things like this. I know we have our lunatic fringe here in Australia, but the abortion debate doesn’t seem to get as much traction here as it does there… or maybe I just end up shielded from it somehow?

    When RU486 (Mifepristone) was debated a couple of years ago in parliament, a conscience vote was allowed (in the Senate) and we had women unite from both sides of government and vote to lift a ban on it’s use.

    When I read posts like yours, I realise I’m lucky that I live somewhere where opposing sides of government can see past the rhetoric to the data, the people and the seriousness with which most women (and their partners) think about access to safe terminations.

    I really hope things get sorted out in Tennessee. Good luck.

  6. Pingback: Ultrasounding Off : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  7. @ vesta: How about legislation requiring an ultrasound during prostate exams? I mean, seriously. Can a doctor really tell if something is wrong w/ one’s prostate simply by shoving a finger up one’s you-know-where?

    It’s all about putting the fun back in fundament…

  8. Aussie,

    It’s really sad. We Tennesseans live in a beautiful place, and have been one of the pillars of the U.S. since the early 1800s. We produced many great leaders and defended our nation across the world. But we also have a pile of hate-filled people who want to force a mean-spirited form of Calvinism on the whole community.

    And while the world economy goes down in flames, our yahoo leaders are more concerned with the long march towards taking away the freedom of our women than producing jobs and fostering economic growth.

    Sad thing is, I teach college and 60% of my students are women and they are far out performing the boys in the classroom. That is until they are all forced to go home and become baby factories again.

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  10. I wonder if Fowler has ever seen a sonogram of an 8-day-old embryo. You’d be hard-pressed to find a heartbeat or anything else recognizable.

    So what if we called his bluff. I wonder how quickly these folks would demand doctors photoshop teddy bears and onesies onto these things, to impress upon women that even though it doesn’t LOOK like human life now, it’s gonna BE one … someday.

    We get it. We know what we’re doing.

    Here’s a thought: if you really love love love human life so much that you can’t bear the thought of abortion, then put your efforts and energy into preventing unwanted pregnancy. Let’s have gov’t sponsored condom dispensers at every public restroom–women’s as well as men’s–in the country. Let’s have a high profile public information campaign about birth control hitting all of the airwaves, like those lame-ass commercials where the kids tell their parents “it’s OK to tell me to wait to have sex”. I’m STILL seeing those, they’re from the Dept. of Health & Human Services, and we’re paying for it. Instead of telling pre-pubescent kids to wait, how about telling sexually active people how to access birth control and make it a little easier for folks to get what they need?

    People have been knocking nasties since the beginning of time, Rep. Fowler. It’s how we’re wired. You aren’t going to stop it. If you gave a shit about abortion you’d work to prevent unwanted pregnancy instead of trying to stop people from having sex.

    The fact that you don’t means you and your entire movement is a fraud.

  11. At one week or even two weeks with a trans-vaginal, you’d see nothing.
    At three and four weeks, the most you might be able to see is a thickening of the endometrium, but only if you had a baseline measurement of endometrial thickness to begin with.

    At the fifth week, you might be able to spot the gestational sac and if it’s late in the fifth week and you have sharp eyes, you might be able to see a very small (.5 mm) thing that will become the embryo. But only with a transvaginal scope — because it is very very small.

    According to the American Pregnancy Association, you won’t *see* a heartbeat even with a trans-vaginal ultrasound until at least six weeks in, but most doctors do the assessment at week seven or even eight since there’s usually some uncertainty about the timing of conception. The fetus is usually around 2-4 mm long at that time. Yes, millimeters, not centimeters.

    So, he’s totally, deeply, cynically, and evilly full of shit, as you say.

  12. I suppose it’s possible that he’s just completely ignorant? (Which wouldn’t excuse his failure to educate himself, of course.)

  13. And even, even if Woods knows absolutely nothing about the topic, he could have fact-checked the *factual assertions* made by Fowler. After the fact, but before posting the story. [insert bitchy remark about journalists vs. bloggers here]

  14. I … don’t know what to say.
    Jeez.
    I thought I had a bad night dealing with none too bright bureaucrats in Hoots which made me want to grab a stick.
    There is so much to do and it makes us all weary.

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  16. I have been thinking about this some, too, about how people who profess to be Christian can turn their backs on the suffering of actual people while focusing on the imagined suffering of “pre-born” babies who need to be saved. And I have to say, I wonder if it isn’t a cop-out–a way of feeling like you’re doing good without really having to face suffering and sometimes the failure to do good, even when you’re trying.

  17. I know someone like that. It is a cop-out on her part. There’s a lot of agonizing pain in her family tied to a family history of miscarriages and difficulty producing live births, and touching the subject at all flicks on the raw.

    So she doesn’t want to touch it, really. She wants to pretend that it’s all cut-and-dried, simple, one-size-fits-all. She made the decision that for herself, she prefers to err on the side of caution and presume a fertilized egg is a human, which is fine. But she also wants to force that choice on everyone else, no matter how little sense it makes in terms of actual biology. And not wanting to think about it means she simply refuses to hear how the physical processes actually work, or what the implications of what she thinks should be law are. If you point out that what she thinks should be law would mean her sister should be arrested, strapped to a table, and raped with instruments by a forensic gynecologist for miscarrying in search of evidence of “murder”, she simply doesn’t listen and refuses to hear, refuses to think about whether there might be any unintended consequences of what she wants to force on the world.

  18. What Helen said about “any unintended consequences” is really something, since we hear it so often from the anti-abortion crowd, that all they want is to prevent women from making choices with consequences they think women can’t live with or wouldn’t, or couldn’t, knowingly choose.

    How many Iraqis have died since the invasion, again? Unintended consequences of what are (arguably) rational choices, indeed. If only we could prevent them all!

  19. I don’t know nuthin bout birthin no babies, and even I knew that eight days for a heatbeat is WAAAAAAY too early. That’s just ridiculous. What a doofus.

  20. Prostate exam, hell! Let’s get Foul-er an intra-penile ultrasound and see if he fails to notice when it happens.

  21. Imagined sinners (with the presumed tractability of their problems, the rapidity and gratitude of their conversions) always have been more fondly engaged by a certain variety of Christian than the real screwed-up and in need of mercy variety. As you often note, the concept here is the difference between “earned suffering” (you bad girl, you had sex, you brought this punishing baby on yourself, now suck it up and deal because I like to think that I would in your situation) and unmerited suffering (which is Christ-like). Not that a blastocyst suffers.

    But honestly, your legislators think this is the most important thing to do right now?

  22. I swear, Bridgett, they are just like the Castilian Cortes in 1348, right before the plague hit. Denouncing the sheep ranchers’ association, denouncing Jews working for the government, denouncing treason against the king’s majesty, all the old stuff, not even thinking about the devastating epidemic in France just to the north.

  23. NM,

    I could see them following right along with Cromwell’s New Model Army as well. At one point, he had 400 “camp followers” beaten to death with clubs because they were little more than whores as far as he was concerned. Little matter that they had no choice but to follow armies acting as prostitutes since their farms had been burned out and their husbands either drafted or killed.

  24. Having actually been in the office with my wife at 8 weeks, when a vaginal ultrasound confirmed our long hoped-for pregnancy, I can say that it forever changed my perspective on pregnancy, abortion, and life. I was stunned and amazed to have life confirmed by a tiny flashing light which the doctor said was the heartbeat.

    It was not only life-changing for me, personally, as a father (Oh my God! We need to get ready! This is happening!), but it also changed my perspective on the tiny life growing inside my wife’s body. It was an awesome, holy, sacred, incredible experience.

    I know that many other folks are stunned, shocked, and devastated by the news that they’re pregnant. As I saw during my wife’s pregnancy, pregnancy really is a medical condition. She had to stop working at about 5 months due to sickness and other complications (she was high-risk for preterm labor after history of two premies). We lost income as a result of that. And we’re still recovering. For some, it’s literally a ticket to bankruptcy. I understand and acknowledge that.

    This is why, in a culture that promotes and respects life, we have to go beyond abortion prohibitions. If Fowler is serious about helping families, he’s going to need to get serious about providing healthcare and living wages for workers, domestic violence prevention, support for pregnant women, etc.

    Let’s see if Fowler puts his money where his mouth is. Will Fowler support legislation that requires the state to provide universal healthcare? Will Fowler support EFCA, which will help workers get the pay they need to raise a family? Will Fowler speak out against domestic and sexual violence against women? Will Fowler support legislation that increases funding for domestic violence shelters in every county in Tennessee?

    I’ll withhold judgment for now, but I’m not too impressed so far.

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