Random header image... Refresh for more!

You Should Be Very Afraid

It shouldn’t come as a surprise even to new readers that I believe it should be a woman’s choice to have an abortion.  Personally, I think it would behoove any person who wants the family building side of reproductive rights protected to also support termination, after all, if you don’t want your government making fertility treatments illegal, it would make sense to spread that protection to all aspects of reproductive rights.

It other words, my uterus is not a pu-pu platter when it comes to rights–it’s a one meal organ and that meal is a steaming warm helping of choice.  I don’t want someone who doesn’t know me or my doctor to make choices in regards to my health whether that be physical or mental.

So imagine my distress when I read about the two new laws passed in Oklahoma today.  The first requires all women having an abortion to watch a live sonogram of the procedure prior to the abortion, with the doctor pointing out the various limbs and organs.  There is no exception made for those who are the victims of rape.  All women will be subjected to the same ultrasound, regardless of circumstances, if they need to have an abortion.

The second law “protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide not to inform the parents of a unborn baby that the fetus has birth defects. The intent of the bill is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion.”

In other words, if your doctor suspects that you are on the fence about terminating the pregnancy and they know that there is something physically wrong with the fetus, such as a genetic disorder, that doctor–as of today–is protected under law and does not need to give you those test results.  And there is nothing you can do about it if your child is born with a disorder that was technically diagnosed (and that information withheld from you) in the womb.

My heart goes out to women who live in Oklahoma, who will be subjected to these two laws.  And I hope the state has also appropriated enough money to mental health services to combat the damage they will do.


1 Sara { 04.27.10 at 8:21 pm }

That’s unreal. So doctors can be paid to conduct tests and then refuse to give the patient the results? Ayiyi. What a strange world we live in.

Love the Pupu platter. You really are hilarious, even when the subject is depressing.

2 Pamala { 04.27.10 at 8:23 pm }

I heard about this this morning and was shocked. I mean come on are they serious?
You’re the first person I’ve come across who holds the same belief as me. You can’t restrict abortion and assume that you can do whatever you want with fertility. I think people fail to realize that there are those out there that think fertility treatments are morally wrong as well.

3 HereWeGoAJen { 04.27.10 at 8:37 pm }

That’s insane.

4 Cindy { 04.27.10 at 8:41 pm }



5 tanya { 04.27.10 at 8:52 pm }

thanks for posting this…most on the IF side dont support a woman’s choice.

6 Anjali { 04.27.10 at 8:53 pm }

I just read about this an hour ago. Horrifying.

7 Astrid { 04.27.10 at 8:58 pm }

My jaw is on the floor. Particularly at the second law. Withholding test results? Are they serious? I don’t think that one’s going to be allowed to stand, frankly. As to the first, it does seem intrusive and I am pro-choice, but I do think some ‘abortion education’ might serve society well and prevent some hastily made decisions. I for one had no idea how far developed a fetus (and its nervous system) could become in so little time until I became pregnant and it rocked my feelings on the subject pretty mightily. I think a forced viewing is extreme tho, particularly for rape victims and parents of fetuses with mortal abnormalities/conditions, extremely poor prognoses etc.

8 Carrie { 04.27.10 at 8:58 pm }

I am shocked. Having just lived through the hell of getting a fatal prenatal diagnosis and then electing to have a D&E, I am shocked that this right could have not been granted to me. Makes me kind of sick. I never realized how pro-choice I really am until this entered my own life. May be time to get more political……

9 Myndi { 04.27.10 at 9:07 pm }

Sounds like every woman of reproductive age should leave the state of Oklahoma immediately, and anyone who ever thought of moving there? Yeah, not so much. Truly unbelievable.

10 LJ { 04.27.10 at 9:10 pm }

Disgusting laws. I am so vehemently pro-choice, but legalizing a doctor’s LIES? Horrifying.

11 Keiko { 04.27.10 at 9:13 pm }

I’m sorry for the French, but what the fuck Oklahoma! Why has this received ZERO media attention?? No advocacy calls to action?? What the sweet holy hell? This is nothing short of emotional abuse re: law 1 and a breach of the Hippocratic Oath re: law 2. This is disgusting. I need to tweet angrily about this.

12 Jess { 04.27.10 at 9:16 pm }

I just read this online one of the IF boards I visit…definitely second that this is bordering on “Cruel and unusual punishment”.

13 Chickenpig { 04.27.10 at 9:23 pm }

Oh my fuckity! OK those laws are NOT ok!

I’m all for choice, too. It is almost impossible to have fertility treatments w/o choice. Yeah, pu pu choice platter!

14 Trinity { 04.27.10 at 9:27 pm }

As somone who has volunteered with NARAL (along with my spouse, pro-choice dudes rock), my disgust for the mandated sonogram-picture-show is obvious. It sours my stomach, and it makes me very sad…and perplexed. Living in a red state (VA) I worry about these kind of threats to reproductive rights unfolding right in my backyard. Sigh. And withholding a prenatal diagnosis from a patient? That is pure EVIL. There is a special place in hell for any doctor who would do such a thing–legally sanctioned or not.

15 jordgubben { 04.27.10 at 9:35 pm }

This is appalling! Giving doctors legal protection to mislead or misinform their patients? Are you kidding me? It’s just frightening. Getting on my soap box on facebook and anywhere else with people to listen. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. I can’t believe this hasn’t been plastered all over the news.

16 PaleMother { 04.27.10 at 9:55 pm }

OMG. Have we fallen down a rabbit hole?

17 Rachel { 04.27.10 at 10:00 pm }

Not cool at all. Do they really think women don’t think through their choices as it is?

18 Road Blocks and Roller Coasters { 04.27.10 at 10:04 pm }

Wow. Just, WOW. The sonogram is awful and the fact that they would mandate something like that is wrong on so many levels. But relinquishing doctors of the obligation to share information with patents about potential issues with their unborn child is just horrible. As someone who was pregnant with twins who they were quite sure were conjoined, I cannot imagine not being told that information, even though it killed me when they said it. I wouldn’t have chosen to terminate the pregnancy, but I was glad to have an option. There are some fetal issues that can have a severe effect on the mothers health–how can they get away with withholding that information? It’s just appalling. And very, very scary.

19 tash { 04.27.10 at 10:04 pm }

There’s so much ugly here, so so much, and what it all boils down to is that they think women are stupid. That we don’t know, that we can’t make up our minds, that we’re imbeciles who don’t understand circumstances. That we need treated like children and lied to and shown picture books. I feel like I’ve stepped back about 600 years at least to a time when we weren’t even subcitizens, we were subhuman.

20 a { 04.27.10 at 10:22 pm }

What Tash said.

I’m completely horrified by the idea that doctors are protected from malpractice for not diagnosing birth defects. That is absurd – it endangers fetuses who can be helped. Doctors will refuse to diagnose, and the chance for lifesaving surgeries or deliveries or other actions will be lost.

I think I would call the live sonogram video law unconstitutional – it’s clearly cruel and unusual punishment. And for something that’s not even a crime…

21 Tigger { 04.27.10 at 10:56 pm }

The only word that comes to mind is “barbaric”.

22 Kristin { 04.27.10 at 11:01 pm }

This is absolutely horrific!

23 mybumpyjourney { 04.27.10 at 11:14 pm }

Oh my. This is insane. 1st off- I would seriously have PTSD if I was forced to watch a video like that. What is wrong with these people? The second law absolutely appalls me to no end. That is SO WRONG. A health care professional is NOT supposed to sway a patient’s decision- or lead them to anything. Doctors are supposed to help collect info (tests, etc) and present it to the patient with their options- to make an informed decision. Would they lie (omiting known test results is basically lying and leading people to believe the result is negative) and say tests for renal failure were ‘normal’ to prevent them from wanting dialysis if they are “too old”.

This is a scary precedent, and I as a nurse I am PISSED OFF.

24 Beautiful Mess { 04.27.10 at 11:32 pm }

WHAT?! This is terrible and has made me sick to my stomach! I can NOT believe this, well I can, but I can’t. I seriously don’t get why people think it’s OK for them to make decisions about women’s bodies. I am so mad that I can not even speak (type) clearly!

Thank you for posting this!

25 Barely Sane { 04.27.10 at 11:53 pm }

O M G – that is deplorable. I just read your post to DH and he is stunned. His then said “it’s probably still legal to screw your sister in OK”. A tad on the crass side but at least you get the point.

It’s a sad sad day. 🙁

26 Battynurse { 04.28.10 at 12:05 am }

Wow. That’s just scary.

27 FET Accompli { 04.28.10 at 12:47 am }

Un-be-lievable. My jaw dropped.

28 queenie { 04.28.10 at 1:01 am }

It’s like they sat down and said “let’s find the cruelest thigns we can do to pregnant women and make them law.”. ItKs shocking, really. I would love to know the gender breakdown on those votes. I’m going to have to go look for that tomorrow.

The latter law is just scary. When we did genetic counseling prior to our genetic testing, we were pretty sure of how we would handle abnormal results (would’ve depended on the disease, but termination was on the table). Although we never explicitly told the counselor we would consider termination, I felt like she skewed our conversations in such a way as to actively discoruage me from considering it ( “you knnow, children with “x” go on to have good lives”, etc). There was a point after we got our results (thankfully, normal) when I actually worried that she lied to us about the results because she knew we were considering termination. I only felt reassured when I saw the lab report at my OB’s office. Which is all a long way of saying that the new OK laws freak me out. How do you make educated medical choices for yourself if lying is state sanctioned? It feels like OK just seceded from the US and became part of China.

29 liljan98 { 04.28.10 at 2:10 am }

In some comments above these laws are called barbaric and horrifying and that’s exactly what they are. I can’t believe these laws passed. My heart goes out to all the women in Oklahoma who will have to deal this crap.

30 Circus Princess { 04.28.10 at 2:27 am }


31 Mina { 04.28.10 at 3:27 am }

Unbelievable!! It is unreal to have such laws passed in the year 2010 in the U.S. of A. This is legalizing torture. The live sonogram and the misinformation of patients is torture! I am very pro-choice, my reasons being the same as Mel’s and much better explained by her.

These lawmakers are taking a leaf out of the communists’ book. You see, this is not the first time this has happened. In at least a couple of the communist countries of Eastern Europe abortion was forbidden for many years, decades even, and this led to an entire generation of unwanted and neglected children. There is even a Romanian movie “4, 3, 2” about this topic, a student pregnant in 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days sets out to find someone to give her an abortion – horrific, it won some Cannes award, but I would not watch that, I know how that period was like and I do not need any foreign movie to show it to me again.
Anyway, what I wanted to point out is that even the communists, in their paranoia of increasing the birth rate by forbidding abortion, they allowed abortion on medical grounds and on special moral grounds (such as rape). Oklahoma is worse than communism allowing doctors to lie to their patients about the condition of their unborn babies.

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. I am sorry to have to say this twice in a week (I am appalled by Google’s decision to scan private networks and getting private mac addresses, along with its other endeavours for its Street View project, saying that users should not be worried about privacy unless they have something to hide – big, bold, all caps WTF?!). Something NEEDS to be done. Really.

32 devon { 04.28.10 at 7:16 am }

How awful!

For any woman to be made to watch a live sonogram and then have an abortion would be torture- I’m sure it is meant to have many women sway from their decision. Which is fine if it is right for them. But taking away choice is horrible. But making a rape victim watch it. That makes me want to vomit.

I don’t even think that I can wrap my head around a doctor, someone whom “we” pay their salaries is allowed to not tell a woman if something may be genetically wrong with the baby- that has to violate some kind of patient rights, after all it is our health information and we are entitled to it, or at least that’s what I thought.

This is sad and pitiful.

33 Terry Elisabeth { 04.28.10 at 7:22 am }

I am scared and pissed off. I’m Canadian but I feel like this could spread and I want to ask “What do we do? What is our plan to make this stop ?”

34 Half of a Duo, Raising a Duo { 04.28.10 at 7:25 am }

While I am somewhat a feminist, I’m pro-choice only in the instance of the pregnancy being a threat to the life of the mother, child. The second I saw the two beating hearts of my sons I knew that life begins the second that sperm smacks into the egg.

For me, the plethora of children in foster care, and the lack and huge expense of adoptions, the growing numbers of IVF and surrogacy as a means to family building… are a dichotomy that just cannot be denied.

I’ve had roommates in my younger years who literally used abortion as a means of birth control. Now they cannot get pregnant in their later years. All those lost children…

I think it makes sense for a woman to be given every option there is before choosing abortion as a means to erase (from the body, but never the psyche) an “oops” child. Most abortions are not via rape or incest but from unguarded moments.

Please forgive me for not going with the crowd on this one. As a barren women, I was dependent upon either adoption or surrogacy in order to become a mother. As a woman on the front lines of mentoring children at-risk and/or in foster care already, I know all too well what can happen to kids who are caught up in the system because society now pressures women to keep their child vs. place with an adoptive family in an open adoption.

I stood in the shoes of the women in OK when I was 19 in a very unplanned (very very, I was on the pill and taking antibiotics) twin pregnancy. I could have been one of those young girls given the video. Had I been, I would have changed my mind about abortion. I would have gone to a counselor and in all likelihood (hypothetical scenario since my daughters passed away inutero later term) with the great counseling done today (for free, I might add, and unbiased) my girls would be living today with a family that adored them. Instead, they were incinerated and I am haunted by this.

I am haunted by the choices women have to make and the burden we have to bear because of the “oops” moment. I know there will be a lot of people who dislike what I have to say on this subject but I know way, way too many women who have used abortion as a means of contraception. If you see a sono you are just made critically aware of the life that is being taken away.

Better to see a child raised up happily, and have some pain from that, than to be haunted about a life lost forever.

35 Bean { 04.28.10 at 8:28 am }

Love your pu pu platter analogy — just brilliant.

But seriously, this just makes me angry, sad and nauseous. I don’t live in OK, and am sure that I never will, but it does scare me that something like this can happen anywhere.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think that Mel was suggesting that most abortions are via rape, rather the fact that there isn’t even an exception in this law for those cases shows how extreme it is.
Have to say also, that while I’m sure it’s true that some people have used abortion for contraception, that’s not the norm either. Right out of college I worked for an abortion rights group and the vast majority of women who end up having abortions do not make that choice lightly or happily. For most women who end up there, even if they know it is the right decision for them, it’s still a very difficult one that very few want to have to make.

Think I’m going to go make some donations to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that actually help women!

36 loribeth { 04.28.10 at 8:29 am }

I am with you, Mel. I find this horrifying.

And Terry Elisabeth, you are right to worry. Don’t think our current Canadian government wouldn’t try to get away with something like this if they thought they had the votes to pass it. Their record on women’s rights is abysmal & they’ve already had members try to introduce legislation that would chip away at reproductive rights.

37 Shelli { 04.28.10 at 8:53 am }


38 Calliope { 04.28.10 at 9:02 am }

makes me weep

39 mash { 04.28.10 at 9:04 am }

I hope those women have access to medical care outside of Oklahoma, that’s all I can say. Soon politicians will be singing their own praises about how abortion rates have gone down there, and ignoring the fact that people have started to travel to other states for baby related medical care! It’s appalling, that’s all I can say. Unbelievably horrendous.

40 Kee { 04.28.10 at 9:09 am }

As someone who will be moving to OK in a month (for my husband’s job) I am terrified. If I ever get pregnant, we will go out of state for all prenatal testing.

41 Geochick { 04.28.10 at 9:25 am }

Are you effing kidding me?!?! Ugh. I can’t even respond except to say I’m so glad I don’t live in OK.

42 Kir { 04.28.10 at 10:17 am }

I sickened and sad. I am so afraid of people that use Morality as a way to disrespect and hurt women in so many ways. To pass judgement, when we all live in glass houses.

43 Betty M { 04.28.10 at 11:13 am }

Astonishing. I had read about this in the UK papers last week and couldn’t believe that they would actually legislate like this. I hope this is challenged.

44 Kitty { 04.28.10 at 12:17 pm }

I am definitely pro-life-leaning, but this makes even me sick. Especially the second one. That is insanity.

45 Hamstergirl { 04.28.10 at 1:00 pm }

Mina, I’m a bit puzzled by your communism=anti abortion stance. It’s not quite that simple.

It’s true that the Romanian communist dictator refused access to abortion, because he had megalomanical idea about increasing the population. Hence all the Romanian orphans after the 1989 revolution.

However, Romania had different policies to most other places. In Russia and parts of the Soviet Bloc, abortion was routinely used as a form of contraception.

Not that I’m saying communism is a good thing, or abortion as a form of contraception is either, and sorry if this is a really geeky comment (I studied the subject a few years ago). But ironically enough, most communist countries were probably easier to get abortions in than Oklahoma.

46 Sonja { 04.28.10 at 2:05 pm }

First of all, thanks for taking away the guilt that I’ve felt since my hysterectomy and still being pro choice. I always felt it was somehow contradictory, but you explained it so well that the guilt is gone.

Second of all, just wow. I can’t believe it. We have fought so long and hard to gain control of our bodies and for the education we need to make choices and decisions about our health, this is just a huge step back.

47 Jamie { 04.28.10 at 3:09 pm }

Just want to point out for whatever it’s worth that the women are not required to “watch” the ultrasound; they may avert their eyes. There is also an exception for when there are medical emergencies endangering the life of the mother.

I know it still seems a little extreme, but I think I am with Half of a Duo, Raising a Due on this one. Even if we are all okay with women getting to choose, doesn’t it make sense to make sure that choices are informed? If you were making such a hard decision, wouldn’t you want all the information available to help you decide? Most of us on here are perhaps older and educated and already have the information. We would know what choice we were making and what it really meant. But we are not every woman. There are plenty of women who are younger and uneducated who might be considering abortion and may not understand everything that means. At least if they have the information, they can make a choice that they can live with. Invasive? Yes. But so is an abortion, for the mother and the unborn baby.

The second law is a lot more concerning to me, though.

48 Holly { 04.28.10 at 3:54 pm }

I have no problem w/ the 1st law but I don’t like the 2nd. Parents have a right to know, whether they would terminate or not.

49 Ana { 04.28.10 at 3:55 pm }

As a doctor, a woman, and a HUMAN I find this disgusting. I literally want to throw up the lunch I just ate, I am so enraged.

As many have said above, #1 is torture pure and simple. and #2 is so so very far out of bounds of ethics in the medical field I can’t even imagine how anyone felt this was OK! Any doctor who cowers behind this law to withhold information to a parent is abusing their privilage as a care provider and putting their own beliefs ahead of the care of the patient—which should ALWAYS come first.

Furthermore (as if we need more!) all of this is so misogynistic.
Taking away a pregnant woman’s dignity by trying to force her to change her mind by watching a video; taking away her rights as a patient and a parent by withholding medical information.

50 Lisa { 04.28.10 at 6:15 pm }

“The first law requires all women having an abortion to watch a live sonogram of the procedure prior to the abortion, with the doctor pointing out the various limbs and organs.”

I believe that this is no less than government-condoned emotional abuse. I just don’t understand the reasoning. “You can have an abortion, but only after we have made you watch a medical operation manipulated to look like carnage.

I’ll take a back seat on the issue of women who “use abortion as a form of birth control.” I can’t know what percentage of all abortions are for convenience, and I don’t personally know any woman who has had that attitude toward pregnancy or casually ended it, from high school, university, graduate school and beyond.

Under the criteria mentioned by some of the commenters here, a life being created when sperm fertilizes egg, would make me a mother, not only of the two children I have, but also of the 4 I miscarried and the 3 embryos that didn’t implant in my IVF cycle; i.e. a mother of 9 children. That is not my view.

Does anyone know whether this new law will consider it an abortion for a fertility doctor to implant multiple embryos and then remove some of the surviving ones to control the risk of multiple pregnancy and birth? If that’s so, then women having IVF in Oklahoma had better only have one embryo implanted at a time, thus bringing the success rates of IVF down.

In regard to the 2nd law, which protects doctors from malpractice suits if they withhold information about birth defects from parents to try to influence them against having an abortion. I’m struck speechless. How could a doctor live with that level of dishonesty? What will they do… announce the defects once the legal time period for medical abortions has expired?

My biggest fear is that the backwards, self-righteous attitude of those who voted this law through might spread their poison to other American States.


(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author