Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Texas Monthly article on the "Climax in Government Intrusion"

Texas monthly discusses what goes down when you use icky words and wave vaginal probes around:

The scene: Sid Miller, sponsor of the 24-hour ultrasound bill, described what is required of doctors by the law. After he spoke, Carol Alvarado took the podium:
“I do not believe that we fully understand the level of government intrusion this bill advocates,” she said tersely. The type of ultrasound necessary for women who are less than eight weeks pregnant is, she explained, “a transvaginal sonogram.” 
Abruptly, many of the mostly male legislators turned their attention to a fascinating squiggle pattern on the carpet, and for a rare moment, the few female legislators on the floor commanded the debate. Representative Ana Hernandez Luna approached the back mike and sweetly asked Alvarado to explain what would happen to a woman undergoing a transvaginal sonogram.
“Well,” Alvarado answered helpfully, “she would be asked by the sonographer to undress completely from the waist down and asked to lie on the exam table and cover herself with a light paper sheet. She would then put her feet in stirrups, so that her legs are spread at a very wide angle, and asked to scoot down the table so that the pelvis is just under the edge.” 
At this point, if there had been thought bubbles floating over the heads of the male legislators, they almost certainly would have been filled with expletives of embarrassment or further commentary on the carpet design.
“What does this vaginal sonogram look like?” Luna asked, ever curious.  
“Well, I’m glad you asked,” Alvarado answered, “because instead of just describing it, I can show you.”
And so the state representative from Houston’s District 145 put both elbows on the lecturn and held up in her clenched fist a long, narrow plastic probe with a tiny wheel at its tip. It looked like some futuristic instrument of torture. “This is the transvaginal probe,” Alvarado explained, pointing it at her colleagues as she spoke, her finger on what looked like a trigger. “Colleagues, this is what we’re talking about. . . . This is government intrusion at its best. We’ve reached a”—she searched for the word—“climax in government intrusion.”
Those who could still focus gaped at Alvarado. No one spoke. The silence seemed to confirm for Alvarado something she had long suspected: most of the men in the House chamber didn’t know the difference between a typical ultrasound—the kind where a technician presses a wand against a pregnant belly and sends the happy couple home with a photo for their fridge—and this. She locked Miller in her sights. “What would a woman undergo in your bill?” she asked. 
Miller seemed confused. “It could be an ultrasound, it could be a sonogram,” he began. “Actually, I have never had a sonogram done on me, so I’m not familiar with the exact procedure—on the medical procedure, how that proceeds.”
“There are two different kinds of sonograms,” Alvarado said, trying again to explain. “The abdominal, which most of our colleagues may think [of as] ‘jelly on the belly’—that is not what would be done here. A woman that is eight to ten weeks pregnant would have a transvaginal procedure.” Miller stammered a response, but Alvarado was not done with him. She continued the grilling for several more minutes, keeping Miller on the ropes with a sustained barrage of icky female anatomy talk. Ultimately, however, the room was stacked against her. 
On March 7 Miller’s bill passed 107–42. 
This is a fantastic article that discusses what went down when the ultrasound bill was in debate, the rise of women to political power in Texas, and the decline in support of public funding for family-planning services. I consider it a must-read.

No comments:

Post a Comment