For any American woman, or any American man that cares about women, whether it is their mother, sister, wife, daughter or any other female relative, there has been absolutely no good news over the past few years. If women are not being deliberately paid less than a man by Republican design, or are forced to allow men, evangelical Christian men, to make their reproductive health decisions, or even be subjected to rape by medical instrument, there has been no good news for America’s women.
Nearly a year ago, the Supreme Court made two obscene rulings based on evangelical demands that the court forbid women from making their own reproductive health decisions whether it is using contraception or safely seeking family planning assistance without being assaulted by evangelical malcontents. However, finally and at long last, there is good news for women and believe it or not it came in the form of a decision by the Supreme Court. What makes this decision particularly noteworthy is that the Justices agreed with a Circuit Court ruling that disabused evangelical Republicans, and theocratic governors from North Carolina and Wisconsin, of the idea that forcing women to undergo rape by medical device is not, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claims, “just cool.”
The High Court refused to review North Carolina’s ‘forced ultrasound’ law and effectively “rendered it unenforceable.” The North Carolina law is very similar to Scott Walker’s Wisconsin law and was given the bovine excrement title “A Woman’s Right to Know Act.” The law forces a woman to undergo an ultrasound, but Republicans could not force her to look at the ultrasound screen and she was permitted to plug her ears to avoid hearing the religious script doctors were legally required to recite or risk losing their license to practice medicine. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the law, and the Supreme Court upheld, said the doctor-recited script was nothing more than “an ideological (Christian) message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term.” However, that was most certainly not the sole reason the High Court refused to review the sane appellate court decision.
It is likely that the Justices on the Supreme Court believed the Fourth Circuit’s decision was more than apropos; particularly after reading the ruling that debunked the theocratic law’s so-called “concern” for American women; particularly claiming that forced ultrasounds and an evangelical sermon were in any way related to “medical informed consent.” The Fourth Circuit Court explained what “informed consent” really means, and how North Carolina and Wisconsin’s forced ultrasound laws are really state-sponsored “moral condemnation.”
The Fourth Circuit’s ruling stated; “Informed consent frequently consists of a fully-clothed conversation between the patient and physician, often in the physician’s office. It is driven by the ‘patient’s particular needs and circumstances’ so that the patient receives the information he or she ‘wants’ in a setting that promotes an informed and thoughtful choice. This provision, however, finds the patient half-naked or disrobed on her back on an examination table (with her feet in stirrups and knees up around her ears) with an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. Informed consent has not generally been thought to require a patient to view images from his or her own body much less in a setting in which personal judgment may be altered or impaired. Yet this provision requires that she do so or ‘avert her eyes.’
Rather than engaging in a conversation calculated to inform, the physician must continue talking regardless of whether the patient is listening. The information is provided irrespective of the needs or wants of the patient, in direct contravention of medical ethics and the principle of patient autonomy. Forcing this experience on a patient over her objections in this manner interferes with the decision of a patient not to receive information that could make an indescribably difficult decision even more traumatic and could ‘actually cause harm to the patient.’ And it is intended to convey not the risks and benefits of the medical procedure to the patient’s own health, but rather the full weight of the state’s moral condemnation.”
Now that the High Court put a stop to evangelical Republicans’ forced ultrasound laws, the 10 Republican states that have them on the books, including Wisconsin, will have to put a stop to what is obviously state-sponsored torture as well as state-sponsored evangelical moral condemnation. Walker thinks forced ultrasounds are “just a cool thing,” and regardless how cool he thinks it is to force women, and doctors, to participate in a costly and unnecessary medical procedure, his fun is at an end. Walker has boasted about just how cool his forced ultrasound law is during an interview with conservative Dana Loesch.
Walker said that as an evangelical tyrant, “I’ve passed pro-life legislation. I’ve defunded Planned Parenthood, I’ve signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there. I just knew if I signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would, would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child.”
The truth is that Scott Walker is as ill-informed about forcing women to undergo ultrasounds as he is a Koch puppet and an evangelical tyrant because “cool” or not, forced ultrasound laws do not change women’s minds about abortion. They do, however, make the procedure prohibitively more expensive, and more traumatizing, for women who are stripped naked, bound spread-eagle on a table in stirrups, forced to endure penetration by medical instrument, and feel as if they are being judged and condemned by their doctor who is forced by Republicans to read an evangelical sermon about the glory of giving birth. It is particularly offensive to women who fall victim to such torture, shame, and judgment, only to give birth and then discover that the same evangelical Republicans shaming them into delivering a baby hate the child because it drew a breath, became a living being, and was no longer a fetus.
Although they can no longer force women to undergo an ultrasound, North Carolina Republicans passed another abortion restriction that Republican Governor McCrory signed forcing women to endure a 72-hour waiting period between doctor visits. According to McCrory, the new law is “a reasonable process that protects women’s health to ensure there will be no further restrictions on access.” No further restrictions indeed. Instead, what Republicans are doing is increasing the cost to women, in time and money, seeking an abortion by making them wait three days after visiting a clinic if they can find one nearby; but at least thanks to the Supreme Court they will not have to undergo a forced medical procedure and sermon from their doctor.
During his 2012 gubernatorial campaign, McCrory did what Republicans do pathologically and lied when he pledged that there was no way he would “support any new restrictions on access to abortions;” something the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reminded him about in calling for him to veto yet another “restriction on access.” Apparently, being an evangelical Republican means adhering to anti-women ideology with no biblical basis, and yet not adhering to the ninth of the Ten Commandments that prohibits lying. However, McCrory cannot be accused of being unfaithful to the biblical admonition for men to control women; something the Supreme Court generally upholds as a matter of course.
It was surprising good news that the High Court did, at least this one time, agree with a lower court that any state can no longer compel women to undergo forced ultrasounds and listen to sermons shaming them into giving birth was unconstitutional. It was good news for America’s women, but for North Carolina Republicans it was just an inconvenience the new 72-hour waiting period resolved and for pro-lifer Scott Walker, it was a sign that no matter how cool he thinks ultrasounds are, they cannot legally be forced on American women.