One of the easiest and most time-honored ways to demean and take away the dignity of a person is to make them go through unnecessary hoops or to unnecessary lengths to get something they need, especially when you hold the power and want to “teach them a lesson,” deter them from actually getting what they need, or prevent them from exercising their rights.
This year, legislatures throughout the country, the majority of which are filled by affluent white, male, right-wing politicians, have done their very best to find ways to demean women seeking reproductive health care, creating obstacles of many kinds. One of the most common is the passage of forced ultrasound laws which are intended to both demean and humiliate women seeking safe abortion care. These laws literally force a woman to undergo an ultrasound before she can obtain a safe, legal abortion — a safe, legal medical procedure — whether or not the ultrasound is medically indicated and whether or not it will raise the cost, time, and stress of ending an unintended and untenable pregnancy. It is an invasion of privacy of the most profound kind.
Forced ultrasound laws range from the state-sanctioned rape of trans-vaginal ultrasounds now carried out daily in Texas, to mandatory abdominal ultrasound laws in Virginia, to the proposed but defeated bill in Utah that would have sent women to crisis pregnancy centers to get a “free” forced ultrasound, which would not in any case have met the legal requirement of the forced ultrasound the government demanded before allowing women access to an abortion. In other words, legislators in Utah wanted to really make sure women knew who was in charge.
Like I said: Demeaning.
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Aside from the anger over forced ultrasound laws in and of themselves, there is perhaps nothing more demeaning than having one of those white, male, affluent right-wing politicians tell you to just lay back and take it. This is, however, what Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett did in March when asked at a press conference about an ultrasound bill in his state that was killed in the midst of a national outcry against such laws.
“As long as it’s not obtrusive… I’m not making anybody watch, OK. Because you just have to close your eyes. As long as it’s on the exterior and not the interior.”
Translation: “I will humiliate you, but you can just lay back and take it.”
And now he is back reiterating the same.
In a video-taped interview, a reporter asks him about his statement. First, while I have not seen the entire interview, this is clearly a “softball,” and/or the reporter himself doesn’t have a clue because he doesn’t ask Corbett why it is necessary to force women into unnecessary ultrasounds in the first place, he just asks him to clarify his “lay back and close your eyes” statement.
And Corbett happily obliges.
Meanwhile, upon receiving an endorsement from Corbett in April, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to whom Corbett is also a campaign advisor, said:
“I’m extraordinarily proud to earn Tom’s support,” said Mitt Romney. “Tom has been a wonderful leader for Pennsylvania and shares my values of spurring economic security through scaling back the size of government and promoting pro-growth policies…”
Two powerful white men, “shared values,” willing to throw women’s health and rights under the bus for the purpose of their own political gain.
Romney, whose political positions do 180s more frequently than a weather vein in a tornado, supports the Blunt-Rubio Amendment, though when asked about it initially he didn’t even know what it was; thinks that Roe v. Wade should be overturned; wants to ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood; and refuses to say whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.
Romney and Corbett both want power, for themselves. And they are willing to demean women to get it.