Blue in Texas is

living Blue in a Red state

Laura Deurmyer

Laura Deurmyer
December 22
Proud mom to a 3rd grade son, wife of an artist/ artisan, liberal, former urban professional marooned in the sands of West TX


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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 24, 2012 8:38AM

Scared Straight: The Abortion Version

Rate: 35 Flag


 Texas capital

Have you ever had a vaginal ultra sound?  Well, I have, and while it didn’t come close to ranking number one on the top ten scale of painful-things-doctors-have-done–to-me, it was decidedly not a pleasant experience.  For my purposes – letting the doctor double check on a possible tumor/ cyst- it worked great.  I was thrilled to have the process available.

But the choice of whether or not to have this unpleasant, intrusive and vaguely embarrassing procedure is not one that should be dictated by a bunch of demagogic state legislators. 

Of course, my Texas being the wingnut stronghold that it is, that’s exactly what our state legislators (between bouts of de-funding elementary education and cutting children’s services budgets) have dictated:  that any woman seeking an abortion in the state of Texas has to submit to a sonagram and then wait 24 hours so that she might better contemplate the fetus that she proposes to abort. 

Never let anyone say that our state doesn’t deserve the oh-so-brilliant Governor Perry.

Even more than the fact that this legislation demeans a woman’s ability to make a difficult decision competently, the use of fear and guilt as bludgeons at a delicate time in these women’s lives infuriates me. 

It’s a version of “scared straight”.  The goal is to psychologically turn what is a perfectly legal- albeit horribly sad and stressful – medical procedure into the mental equivalent of a criminal act.

I have doubts about the efficacy of this approach when it’s used to lecture teenagers on the horrors of prison, to illustrate the terrible consequences of unsafe driving or to provide graphic illustration of one’s brain on drugs. 

This approach is used in an effort to make getting a legal abortion ever-more nerve-wracking.  It’s ridiculous to even claim the pretence of informing or educating women; this may come as news to Republican lawmakers in Texas, but 99.99% of women already know where babies come from. 

But, if we’re going to follow this “scared straight” philosophy, I would like to suggest the following items that the Texas legislature can work on implementing:

  • ·         Legislation forcing anyone who works for a defense contractor, any young person signing up for military service or anyone who wants to write a pro-war op-ed to view at least a day’s worth of graphic war footage from Vietnam and WW II. 
  • ·         Provisions requiring any legislator who votes to reduce funding for any children’s health program to spend a week volunteering in a pediatric cancer ward before their vote will count.
  • ·         New soda/sugar sales controls which provide that any consumer with a BMI in the “obese” zone watch a video covering the dangers of diabetes and heart disease in detail prior to purchasing any sugar or high fructose corn syrup containing products.

Of course, pro-lifers will scoff at my suggestions.  In their minds, abortion is murder.  Almost any measure is allowable to stop a murder.  Societal norms have so dictated for millennium; defense of self or other is a proven rationale for extreme action.

If we widen our scope beyond murder and branch out into other sin areas, we could also implement:  

  • ·         A requirement that any man who is not married and seeks to purchase condoms, KY jelly or sexy lingerie carry around one of those high school sex-ed dolls for at least a week first. After all, if a man is flirting with making a baby, shouldn’t he at least know how to diaper a baby?
  • ·         An addition to mortgage and realty license requirements that the applicant go through a “mock” eviction where he or she will be forced onto the street for a period of time.

At least some of the Texas judiciary sees this new abortion law for what it is.  Perhaps we’ll get someone with a cool judicial head to step in, apply the law and get rid of this insulting, ridiculous legislation. 

If the courts don't step in, the freedom-loving Republican cadre in Texas will have succeeded in intruding –using a vaginal ultra sound probe – where they definitely don’t belong.  They will have succeeded in treating Texas women like criminals.  And they will have done absolutely nothing to help the children whom they claim to adore. 

What’s the old saying?  Texas’ Republican legislators are pro-life, at least until birth.

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Feel free to add your "educational" suggestions below. I like the one about sugary drinks and foods - here in TX, land of the Dr. Pepper and Big Red, that would go over so well!
The sugary drinks one is good although I just dont know if that would sway me.
The one about the rubber doll.. make sense to me but to them? in one ear and out the other.
Great blog..
I hear that yours is a wonderful state in which to live. But I am stunned by the apparent delighted eagerness of Texas politicians and the legislature to impose on other people's freedoms while wrapping themselves in the "constitution" and parroting platitudes about "rights." Perry re-elected several times as governor? Really? I'm dumbfounded. Breathtakingly scary but so much of it renders me speechless. Yikes. Important post. I like your suggestions...funny and pointed. I think I would implode from holding my tongue or be arrested every day for protesting such thinly disguised hatred for women as equal beings. rated ...Sorry if I've offended you in any way...not my intent. But it all takes my breath in makes me gasp in horror.
Oooh this is a good one. Anyone who wants to cut K-12 education funding should have to spend a day in community college teaching remedial English and math to young adults who graduated from high school without enough basic education to write a resume, a cover letter, or balance a checkbook.

People who want to cut funding for contraception and Planned Parenthood should have to spend a day babysitting for a young single mother, free of charge, so she can go to her job at Wal-Mart.

Oh I could go on and on. This is excellent.
When I read things like this, I am stunned. Stunned, I tell ya.
Excellent post, Laura.~r
Excellent piece, and loved your educational suggestions! Definitely would be different laws in this world if the folks creating the rules were actually the ones affected by them, and actually had to live by them.
I would add this one for the lawmakers doing their darnedest to make school lunches good only for the companies making the obscene profits from them;
One month eating that highly processed, low fiber, high fat/salt/sugar, microwaved swill...and they can't leave the table until their trays are clean.
In Pa. the law dictates that a woman has to take two days to "make a decision" before and after which she must be given brochures with of aborted fetuses. Two days off from work, cab, bus fare: two days worth, plus every other reason you can imagine, babysitters already stressing someone who will be having a medical procedure. Birth control is not covered by insurance in our state. Make sense?
Men, walk in get Viagra at any doctor, get a vasectomy anytime they decide all covered by insurance. Pharmacists have no problem selling condoms to any male who walks in, never a protest about that, although some legislators feel it's OK for them to deny BC to woman for religious purposes. Yes, it could happen in your state. Vote, join NOW, donate money, protest and also support other woman in their choices: no judgement.
Great post. I might add Happy Meals' regulations in there too except that they've already been done. Not exactly on a par, and for a good reason maybe, but still a little overreaching in my mind. I love the mortgage and realty suggestion. I laugh every time I see the realtor association add on TV that talks about how they're there to protect the right of everyone to home ownership.
Love those "small government" folks wanting to stick something up a woman's vagina! Geez, isn't that the very definition of "invasive"? How in the world could that ever pass constitutional muster?

(Speaking of which, a Tea Party lunatic in TN introduced a bill a couple of weeks ago which said that any law properly passed by the legislature could not be subject to judicial review to determine its constitutionality. In other words, the Republican legislature was trying to do away with the judiciary. So much for checks and balances! Fortunately, the bill was withdrawn. But that won't stop them from trying again.)
Muse - TX is a great place to live in many ways; the country is varied and beautiful, most people are genuinely nice and no one can say our weather is boring. The politics do make me crazy; I wonder how many TX voters realized how incompentent our Gov. was until his recent Presidential run. And I keep from exploding/imploding by writing this blog, so thanks for reading!

froggy - I love your suggestions. Excellent!

Joan - I keep thinking of that map on the front of big Salon yesterday with the red and the blue. Sometimes this stuff stuns me too; sadly, too much of the time, I expect it now.
I had a miscarriage a few years ago (very early on) and ended up in the ER because my friend was concerned there might be something else wrong (who knew it was like labor, but with nothing to push on?). I was denied any paid meds for the back bending contractions, even though I said I have miscarried. Then, after the ultrasound in which they could not find any evidence of an embryo, they still refused to help because "it might still be in there somewhere"- even though I told them I had passed it already. Nobody at any time asked me what I wanted or acknowledged what I had said, I was literally just a pelvic check (and an expensive bill). The only good thing that came of it was that as a med student, I got real time experience going through the whole ordeal, and got to see what a live action, doppler ultrasound looks like. And that I had nice ovaries.
Laura Deurmyer. Thanks for reminding readers of WW-2, -and horrible`
No take PH # Viagra.
Eat pork and beans.
become a virgin?
eat drink and be merry.
a vegan man
referring to his in-laws
as blood-suckers
No sip `Mountain Dew'
The CEO;s use 22- spoons
and a rat would no drink `it`
and try raw goat - goo - milk.
Barb - Ooooh. I love your suggestion. Unfortunately, it might backfire, since they put stuff in those foods that literally make them physically addictive. (I'm coming "off" those foods, so I know painfully first-hand!:))

rita - I had not followed which states have these backwards types of laws. Sorry that PA is also among them. And you're right - the difference between men's health items and women's is staggering. I don't know why erectile meds should be covered at all; they're just raising my premium costs and they aren't medically necessary. Sometimes birth control pills ARE medically necessary for endometriosis etc...

jl - The realtors have kind of gotten a PR pass in this whole mortgage collapse thing. But they really drove the over-consumption of housing by directing clients to homes they really shouldn't be buying.

Jeannette - The sheer breathtaking hypocrisy of "small govt" types passing this type of law always floors me. And the bill about the judicial review is terrifying; they probably realized that even "conservative judges" sometimes wish to protect their judicial legacy by actually following settled law. Can't have that!
I'm becoming more "educated" and speechless just reading this. Wow. Thank you!
Thank you very much for this. r.
Fusun , Jonathan and Sheila - Thanks for reading!
Fusun , Jonathan and Sheila - Thanks for reading!
Well written, you already know I agree with you. One of my favorite quotes is "the last time Republicans cared about you, you were a fetus" so true and so sad. Even sadder that the poor and middle class in this state think Repubs are on their side. "Well it's a good thing we don't have a state tax" (said to me at the tax desk at least twice now, and I've only done about 4 returns) and I'm thinking to myself...except if we DID have a state tax you more than likely would've gotten back everything you paid in AND you'd be paying less in sales and property taxes. *sigh*

And let us not forget how our oh-so-brilliant Governor vetoed a bill to ban texting and driving because he "didn't want to micro manage the behavior of adults" really RP? REALLY?!?! You don't want to ban texting and driving because it will micro manage the behavior of adults but it's A-OK to force an ultrasound on women who seek an abortion? In that scenario, not only are you micro managing the behavior of the woman, you're also micro managing the behavior of the doctor/care provider of the woman. SMDH.
How clever -- a time out for abortion seekers. "Go sit in the corner and think about what you are about to do, Ms. Pregnant Woman." {{Shriek}}

Elb - you raise good points. I had forgotten the texting/ driving controversy. That comparison right there is as good an illustration of the hypocisy at play here as anything I could have ever thought of!

L - Time out! Brilliant. That IS what it is, isn't it. Sheesh.
Can I get an "amen"? Amen,sister!
No educational suggestions -- I'm just too mad to think creatively right now. I also keep thinking about rape survivors and how the last thing they need (whether the pregnancy is a product of rape or subsequent consensual act) is to be FORCED into being vaginally penetrated.
First and foremost, I have to say that I know we all have our own opinions...BUT...NO ONE should be able to force someone to have a vaginal ultrasound (a very intrusive and often terrifying procedure of which I've had countless) without just cause.

I'd like to stick that wand up...ugh. Never mind.

Great posting.
A big problem with the 24 hour waiting period is that women who live in areas that don't have abortion clinics have to travel long distances to get to one, which takes money and might require a day off work. To make someone do that twice is ridiculous.

Of course, anyone who gets an abortion is just a stupid whore that doesn't know what she's doing, so I guess it's okay.

It is difficult enough to believe that minds like those exist. To believe that they actually get elected, by the public, to positions of responsibility is just stunning. If ever there was a good reason to demand that every ballot contain a N.O.T.A. option, this sort of idiocy is it. Another reason I'm glad to be Canadian!
Laura, you are much too kind.
Art - Thanks for the poem; the vegan reference is hilarious. My parents are going to be among to group that thinks we're weird!

Oryoki - Your experience was horrifying; no one should have to go through that kind of thing. I'm glad you have nice ovaries, though! :)

cc: Thanks!

Bell - That is very true. I'm not sure if women who've been raped are excluded at all. Knowing this bunch, probably not.

Michelle - Right? We can argue about whether abortion is OK at all even, but to force this type of medical procedure on women is just wrong. Wrong.

Jacqueline - That is also a very good point. Not to mention that ultra sounds are not cheap, and I bet the patient is responsible for costs. (Or her insurance.)

skypixeo - I sometimes can't believe they get elected either. And this type of lawmaking seems to be what a lot of people here actually want. The definite downside of democracy is never feeling like you're represented if you live in a place where you're among the minority.

Good Daughter - I don't know about that.
The vast majority of abortions are done in the first trimester when the fetus looks more like a tadpole than a baby. Making a woman wait is a deterrent, but I'm not sure the pictures are going to do what they proponents of the bill hope.
This is a very good argument. I have far more to say, but it's personal and I do not think it really would change anything anyhow.

Excellent post. The hypocrisy of "small government" usually floors me too. I would add for any male lawmaker who wants to make decisions on behalf of women to have a 24 hour simulation of menstrual and/or labor pains and a few hours worth of simulated experience when he is jobless, penniless single mother pregnant by abusive boyfriend or having a wanted pregnancy, but with horrible complications. I wish there were ways to make those experiences as real as possible.
Rated with hugs.
I do not feel that an ultrasound is that big of a deal. If they can take their clothes off, have sex, get pregnant, or whatever else they are doing... then an u/s is not a big deal, especially if they want an abortion anyway. The u/s won't matter one bit. So, let them be informed before they make the final decision. I've worked with too many young girls under age 18 who have become pregnant, who have not chosen to abort, and the few that admitted they did, have done it several times, according to their own words. Whether or not this is the case, why not be informed about a decision. No one said having an abortion is easy, either choice is difficult, but I tend to shy away from society that seems to say that "we should do anything we want."

Give people the information, they can make their choice afterward.
I actually like all those suggestions, and they seem more necessary than the wait for an abortion. By the time a woman has decided on abortion, she has been through it all in her mind, over and over and over, and is choosing abortion as the one choice that is possible for her life, usually.
I seriously doubt there is any second thought to any of the other situations, I truly think all those conditions need the emotional wait, the video watched, the control of use...send this post to the White House!
I'd add the Texas Legislature, but, 's likely useless there...for now. Things can change...even in Texas.
(Am I pegged as hopeless optimist with that last remark?)
I am so glad you provide the other side of Texas. I am originally from PA, a kissin'cousin to all this abhorable nonsense. Did I just make up a word? Good. It fits. Better than an ultrasound probe.
PeelingAnOrange - you got that right. If the slutty bitch has already voluntarily let something up there, then it doesn't really matter what else the government forces up there, right?
Who pays for these sonograms and ultrasounds? We do. Why? Politics and stupidity. What happens if my daughter wants an abortion and she's coerced into submitting to screening diagnostics which violate her rights to make sound medical decisions?

Know what it costs to bill of these procedures to a health insurance company? I don't have health insurance and when I had sonos and ultrasounds I paid less than those billed out to ins cos.

Scare tactics is what the Republican party has relied upon and this is their newest investment.
Don't get me started! I find it all incredibly demeaning, patronizing and paternalistic. And, who pays for this procedure? Is the woman billed for it, so she's not only subjected to an invasive procedure and treated like a child/criminal but also made to pay for it?
Excellent and frightening post! I like your additional suggestions and was thinking...maybe mandatory vasectomy for the male who participates in creating an unwanted pregnancy? Might eliminate the need for abortions...
Congratulations, Laura, on a great post and an Editor's Pick. Well deserved. Maybe Perry needs a forced ultrasound.
Even more than the fact that this legislation demeans a woman’s ability to make a difficult decision competently, the use of fear and guilt as bludgeons at a delicate time in these women’s lives infuriates me.

I couldn't have said it better myself! (And couldn't vaginal ultrasound pass for a form of rape when used the way these clowns propose?)

I wish folks who were more like Jim Hightower and the late, great Molly Ivins held power in the statehouse.

rita shibr: Right on! I live in "liberal" New York State, but I know full well that that could change with any future election unless those of us who see our female friends and relatives as more than mere breeding stock keep our eyes and ears open, and act accordingly.
Thanks, Laura, with Perry dropping out of the Presidential race, I hadn't gotten pissed off at Texas in a few days. These phony "freedom-loving" "pro-lifers" always get me riled up. I also like your legislative proposals.
Thanks to all who commented yesterday; our internet was down, so I was not able to read or respond!

Malusinka - You make a very good point; it really is all about the inconvenience and shame. There is no education/ information component.

Dianne - Thanks for reading and commenting.

snowball - if men could experience simulated pregnancy/ labor, so many communications gaps could be closed! And I bet a lot of laws would change...

PeelinganOrange - I disagree with you completely, but am glad to see you here. Other viewpoints are always welcome. An US is not dangerous or that horrible, when compared with many other medical procedures, but if it's not medically needed, I just don't think it should be mandated. Playing head games (and that's what this is) with pregnant women in bad circumstances shouldn't be considered a viable policy approach, in my view.

Just Thinking - Things CAN change in TX. After all, it was mostly democratic until a couple of decades ago. Something has to give somewhere soon - this type of invasive governing will eventually go too far and people won't take it.

dirndl - I love your word. Abhorable! I am so stealing. Thanks for commenting.

Dienne - Oh my!

Belinda - I need to research the "who pays" question. It's really bugging me...I suspect it's not the taxpayer, unless the patient is on Medicaid.

bnzoot - I will check. May be another post in it...Don't Republicans think it's unconstitutional to force people to pay for health care, or something like that?

Jersey Girl - Harsh! But you're right, that would do it, I bet.

Daniel - Thanks! What a funny idea; I bet the only thing he's carrying is a great big ball of confusion.

fuddler - Oh how I miss Molly. She was something else. And Ann Richards. I can't think who we have now (except maybe Hightower) who could carry that torch. Bill White's a good guy, but he's no Molly Ivins!

Cranky - Oh, you're welcome! And I will do my best to make sure you get your periodic dose of anger at TX. Thanks for commenting.
You certainly hit the nail on the head, Laura. Not only on the abortion issue, but on the death penalty issue as well. If only people would stop for a moment and really think about what consequences their actions will have.

I have several other like-minded friends who live in Texas, I'm not sure how any of you manage to do it.

Beautifully written, thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing.
thank you for this article...well done
God is a good Councillor,/as He knows the psychology of love,
the elixir for youth and old./God is a good magician,/as He makes it appear and disappear/the illusions of love./God is a good pharmacist,/as He mixes up the estrogen and testosterone,/in the right proportion.Toilet Paper Coupons