Virginia Wants To Force Doctors To Rape Women With Probes

I wish I was just being hyperbolic. This week, the state's Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill requiring women to have ultrasounds before they're allowed to have an abortion. Since most abortions happen early in the pregnancy, this means that most of those women will be forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, in which the doctor inserts a probe into the vagina until they produce an ultrasound image. At it stands, women seeking an abortion will be forced to have this procedure whether or not they consent to it. (Some of whom, it should be mentioned, will be there because they were recently raped.) Doctors will have to perform the procedure, for no medical reason, whether or not they agree. The state's governor, Bob McDonnell, has promised to sign the bill into law.

Now, Virginia's laws when it comes to questions of sexuality can be pretty fucked up, but even they agree that sticking an inanimate object inside another person's vagina against their will is rape. (When, for instance, it comes to defining statutory rape in Section 18.2-67.4 of the Virginia Code, they include "animate and inanimate object sexual penetration." Oklahoma's code has an entire section dedicated to "rape by instrumentation". The FBI recently updated their definition of rape to include penetration by objects, too.)

Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick has an excellent article about this bullshit, and since she knows way the hell more about this stuff than I do, I'll just suggest you go read it.

Update: Good news, it seems: the Governor has backed off his earlier position and announced that he won't support the requirement for transvaginal ultrasounds. Slate's got the info here. :


Photo: A transvaginal ultrasound via ThinkProgress.

Posted by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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