Busted: Republicans’ State Mandated Ultrasounds Are Vaginal Probes, Not Choices


transvaginal ultrasound wand

You may have heard defenders of Republicans, who are claiming the right to rape women with the authority of the state via their many ultrasound laws currently sweeping the nation via the state level, explain that some of these laws do not mandate a vaginal probe, and therefore are not rape.

After all, it would be politically costly, even for rape-denying Republicans, to not only legalize rape, but to mandate it. They found this out when they tried to mandate vaginal ultrasounds in Virginia.


You see, rape is defined by the Justice Department and FBI (for reporting/statistical purposes – note that state by state definitions of rape vary) as, “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

So Republicans took out the word vaginal and replaced it with language that mostly only women who have had vaginal ultrasounds understand to mean vaginal ultrasound, and we all know Republicans aren’t interested in listening to women’s experiences (“mob rule”) as they pass these unprecedented invasions against women across the country. Republican Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) can’t stop trying to shame and hush state Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) on the issue of women’s healthcare.

The language of Wisconsin Senate bill is an example of how they imbed the transvaginal probe while claiming you have a choice, “An ultrasound on the pregnant woman using whichever transducer the woman chooses; provide a simultaneous oral explanation during the ultrasound including the number of unborn children and presence and location of the unborn child; display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them; provide a medical description of the ultrasound images including the dimensions of the unborn child and a description of any viewable external features and internal organs of the unborn child; and provide a means for the pregnant woman to visualize any fetal heartbeat, in a quality consistent with current medical practice, and a simultaneous oral explanation of the visual display of the heartbeat in a manner understandable to a layperson (ultrasound requirements).”

Hint: In order to achieve most of that with the “quality consistent with current medical practice”, a transvaginal ultrasound must be used. Oh, but they didn’t SAY vaginal probe. Republicans learned after the Virginia debacle. They found a new way to mandate vaginal ultrasounds without saying it.

There are two main types of fetal ultrasound exams, per the Mayo Clinic. The vaginal ultrasound is used in early pregnancies because the uterus and fallopian tubes are closer to the vagina than to the abdominal wall at that time. To wit:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound. With this type of fetal ultrasound, a wand-like transducer is placed in your vagina to send out sound waves and gather the reflections. Transvaginal ultrasounds are used most often during early pregnancy, when the uterus and fallopian tubes are closer to the vagina than to the abdominal surface.
  • Transabdominal ultrasound. A transabdominal fetal ultrasound is done by moving a transducer — a small plastic device that sends and receives sound waves — over your abdomen. This type of fetal ultrasound helps your health care provider determine your baby’s gestational age and evaluate your baby’s growth and development. The exam usually takes about 20 minutes.

As Think Progress explained in February, many of the laws mandate that the women must see the fetus, and therefore, since most abortions happen at an early stage, it mandates a vaginal probe. Others mandate hearing the fetal heartbeat, and the transvaginal probe is the medically preferred ultrasound to hear the fetal heartbeat.

Hike your feet up into some stirrups so you can get a transducer so large it requires lubricant shoved up your vagina until it hits and applies enough pressure against your cervix to read the uterus, ovaries, etc. This version of rape is now mandated by many states, courtesy of “small government” Republicans, only they’re not calling it rape. They’re calling it an option that’s “beneficial” to your health.

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet knew that the names of things do not change what they are:

O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

So, too, a state mandated and unnecessary transvaginal probe by any other name is as invasive as a rape as defined by the DOJ, because it is what it is no matter what they call it.

We will refer to Republican ultrasound laws as mandated vaginal ultrasounds, because that is what they are. And Republican mandated ultrasound laws are state authorized rape. No sweet smelling lies can make this outrageous assault upon the bodies of women any less egregious, no matter what they call it.

Image: Talking Points Memo

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