The other day, the U.S. Supreme Court actually shocked me! That is hard to do in most cases. However, taking into consideration the conservative view of the current majority of the court, this one actually shocked me. In case you haven’t heard, the court ruled not to review North Carolina’s Ultrasound Law.
A lower court and then the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law earlier. This law was one of those draconian laws that forced women who wanted an abortion to go through an ultrasound with the doctor required to read a script detailing what she was seeing. It didn’t matter of the woman wanted the ultrasound, or even wanted to hear what the doctor told her. It didn’t matter if the doctor was against this procedure and script reading either. If the doctor failed to follow the law to the letter, that doctor risked losing his license to practice medicine.
Handing down its decision, the Fourth Circuit 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 an ultrasound probe either on her belly or 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.
This refusal to review the case by SCOTUS is a potential major blow to the anti-choice forces. One of the key elements of their fight against choice has just been rendered illegal. There are several states that still have such laws on their books. And, you can be sure they won’t go down without more legal wrangling.
The Republican base is all for telling people what to do and how to act. We have seen this nonsense in various forms of stupid laws and legal wrangling in the last several years. Besides this draconian law, the conservative base of the Republican Party wants to be the sole determining source for many of life’s biggest decisions.
Remember the fight in Florida about when a woman could be taken off of life support? That was a huge political issue. Remember the brain-dead woman in Texas that was kept on life-support simply because she was pregnant? Remember the cases in Tennessee where women were charged with murder of an infant because they had a miscarriage? These cases were all determined by conservative laws that tell the average person only the conservatives in this country have the right to make decisions for them.
The other factor that no one talks about in these types of cases is fiscal. The states tell you what you may or may not do, and if you decide to go against them they tell you that you have to undergo very expensive medical procedures before you can go ahead with your decision. Yet, even though you are forced to undergo these procedures, you are still stuck with the bill.
In the cases in Florida and Texas, the state did not “pick up the bill” for the added useless medical treatment they forced on these women. None of the states that require an ultrasound prior to an abortion pick up the tab for that procedure either. The patient and their families are required to pay for these procedures even if they don’t want them.
Let’s be honest, none of these procedures are cheap! Unfortunately, this type of stupid law may not be limited to stupid conservative states. Scott Walker is Governor of Wisconsin and is running for President. Wisconsin passed a similar law to the one in North Carolina that was just struck down. He said of his law:
I’ll give you an example. I’m pro-life, I’ve passed pro-life legislation. We defunded Planned Parenthood, we 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.
We just knew if we 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.
Yes, the Governor thinks these ultrasounds are “a cool thing.” But, he also tells you exactly why forced ultrasounds are necessary. To convince women NOT to have an abortion. No other reason, just to make women change their minds.
This is the kind of country we are potentially facing. One where the government will decide what is “moral” and what is not. If they consider something “amoral” based on its narrow interpretation of some ancient book, then they will tell you what you can and cannot do. One thing fascists all around the world throughout history has advocated for is that women have as many children as possible. It is the only way to ensure enough “soldiers” to fight their wars of aggression.
Maybe it is time to ask if these laws forcing people to undergo treatment they don’t want is really a step in that direction? Thankfully, at least for now, the courts, including SCOTUS says this kind of law is illegal. Maybe, just maybe, that is a step away from Republican interference in our personal lives.