Wanna know what it’s like to get a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound? Ask Megan Carpentier:
It was vigorously uncomfortable — more than a typical pelvic exam, with which most women are very familiar. In part, it’s more uncomfortable because the technician has to press the wand directly against the areas she wants to get an image of — your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries — so there’s more movement and more direct contact with pressure-sensitive areas of your body; you’re also not lying flat on your back to facilitate access to the upper reaches of your vagina; and you’re being penetrated with a longer, rigid object than is used in a regular pelvic exam. … If I had been pregnant (which I knew I was not), the exam might have lasted longer as she looked to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and locate the miniscule gestational sac.
It was not, however, like being raped, despite all the furor-generating headlines and “Doonesbury” cartoons that were printed. It was uncomfortable to the point of being painful, emotionally triggering (and undoubtedly is moreso for victims of rape or incest or any woman in the midst of an already-emotional experience) and something that no government should force its citizens to undergo to make a political point.
Texas, Oklahoma and North Carolina mandate these procedures for women seeking abortions. (Virginia and Pennsylvania’s efforts to implement similar laws were thwarted in recent months – though Virginia will still require a regular ultrasound.) One pro-choice woman is trying to tune out some of the new regulations:
Although it’s the transvaginal ultrasound laws that get all the attention, the true cutting edge of abortion restrictions is currently in place only in Texas, which not only mandates ultrasounds before abortion but also compels the woman to listen to a description of the sonogram and to a fetal heartbeat. (An attempt to get the law struck down on First Amendment grounds — both the woman’s and the doctor’s right not to be forced by the state to submit to ideological speech — has so far failed, and the law is currently being enforced.) … [Denise] Paolucci had an idea. She’d just been offered an iPod at the dentist’s office to drown out the drill – why not have the same for women having abortions? She decided to solicit donations to buy iPods for all of the Planned Parenthoods in Texas that provide abortions so that women who don’t want to hear the state-sponsored script can have another option.