Reading Time: 2 minutes By Moros (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Reading Time: 2 minutes

This was written before the last Presidential election, but it still applies to the current political situation.

The Virginia state legislature passed a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound probe inserted into their you-know-what before they could have an abortion. Governor Robert McDonnell called it the “women’s right to know bill.”

The idea is to force the woman to hear the heartbeat of the fetus, obviously with the hope that she will then change her mind about the abortion. But to characterize this forced invasion of her body as somehow defending her rights is not merely dishonest. It is oppressive. And demeaning. And humiliating.

The firestorm of protest that resulted caused McDonnell…who had been mentioned as a possible GOP vice presidential nominee…to back down. Slightly. The revised version requires only an external ultrasound, but doctors still have to offer the invasive procedure.

But there is a problem with the external ultrasound. It often does not work for early term fetuses. So, it’s a waste of time and money, serving only to attempt to coerce the woman into changing her mind.

Virginia state senator Jane Howell (D) put the issue in perspective. She introduced an amendment that would force men suffering from erectile dysfunction to have a digital rectal examination before they could get a prescription for Viagra-type medication. The amendment failed, of course, but the point was made.

If Virginia were the only state attempting to coerce women, we could dismiss this as an anomaly, but several other states, including Pennsylvania and Alabama are considering similar measures.

This is yet another example of the determination of the Religious Right to impose their religious agenda on the rest of us. If we let them do it, we have only ourselves to blame.

I hardly need to add, the election in November is critical. Every Republican candidate for office, including state and local levels, is outspokenly anti-choice. It’s a massively funded attack on the Constitution and on our liberty, especially on women’s rights.

It is yet another example of the dangers of allowing religious organizations to infiltrate government. Jefferson was rightly concerned about the influence of churches on government. He and Ben Franklin made sure that the Constitution was designed to protect individuals and minorities from the tyranny of an oppressive and intolerant majority. But legislative bodies, particularly in the red states dominated by political arms of the Religious Right, are constantly trying to sneak this stuff into law. Secularists must be vigilant and ready and willing to take them to court when they overstep. Not many people can afford to instigate a lawsuit against government, so the best way to do that is to support organizations like ACLU and Americans United. If we let the zealots get away with it, we have only ourselves to blame.

Bert Bigelow is a trained engineer who pursued a career in software design. Now retired, he enjoys writing short essays on many subjects but mainly focuses on politics and religion and the intersection...

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