‘We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal with Texas’ New Sonogram Law
This is what government intrusion on a woman’s choice has wrought. It’s heartbreaking.
Halfway through my pregnancy, I learned that my baby was ill. Profoundly so. My doctor gave us the news kindly, but still, my husband and I weren’t prepared. Just a few minutes earlier, we’d been smiling giddily at fellow expectant parents as we waited for the doctor to see us. In a sonography room smelling faintly of lemongrass, I’d just had gel rubbed on my stomach, just seen blots on the screen become tiny hands. For a brief, exultant moment, we’d seen our son—a brother for our 2-year-old girl.
Yet now my doctor was looking grim and, with chair pulled close, was speaking of alarming things. “I’m worried about your baby’s head shape,” she said. “I want you to see a specialist—now.”
My husband looked angry, and maybe I did too, but it was astonishment more than anger. Ours was a profound disbelief that something so bad might happen to people who think themselves charmed. We already had one healthy child and had expected good fortune to give us two.
Instead, before I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly.
So, softly, haltingly, my husband asked about termination. The doctor shot me a glance that said: Are you okay to hear this now? I nodded, clenched my fists and focused on the cowboy boots beneath her scrubs.
She started with an apology, saying that despite being responsible for both my baby’s care and my own, she couldn’t take us to the final stop. The hospital with which she’s affiliated is Catholic and doesn’t allow abortion. It felt like a physical blow to hear that word, abortion, in the context of our much-wanted child. Abortion is a topic that never seemed relevant to me; it was something we read about in the news or talked about politically; it always remained at a safe distance. Yet now its ugly fist was hammering on my chest.
My doctor went on to tell us that, just two weeks prior, a new Texas law had come into effect requiring that women wait an extra 24 hours before having the procedure. Moreover, Austin has only one clinic providing second-trimester terminations, and that clinic might have a long wait. “Time is not on your side,” my doctor emphasized gently. For this reason, she urged us to seek a specialist’s second opinion the moment we left her office. “They’re ready for you,” she said, before ushering us out the back door to shield us from the smiling patients in the waiting room.
The specialist confirmed what our doctor had feared and sketched a few diagrams to explain. He hastily drew cells growing askew, quick pen-strokes to show when and where life becomes blighted. How simple, I thought, to just undraw those lines and restore my child to wholeness. But this businesslike man was no magician, and our bleak choices still lay ahead.
We need to fight back. We can fight back, if we do it together. That’s what my new Team Uterati Wiki Project is for. (The Team Uterati blog is here.)
We are tracking all anti-women/anti-reproductive rights/anti-choice legislation on a state-by-state basis, as well as providing resources for women’s health. We’re already making great progress. Check out the wiki pages for Pennsylvania, Arizona, and North Carolina. If you want to help, sign up for Team Uterati wiki here, introduce yourself in the forums here, and/or fill out a volunteer application here. 65 people (men and women) have already signed up.
It may seem daunting, but my webninja has made extensive video tutorials. I’ve never built a wiki page before; yesterday I built two.
We are not helpless.[cross-posted at ABLC]
Your point is that the people pushing these laws are bastards who should never be allowed near any position of authority?
Now I’m going to go hit something.
This is crazy!
And Texas has gone even further, losing federal funds for Medicaid family planning because Rick Perry implemented a law defunding Planned Parenthood. Federal law does not allow a state to discriminate against particular providers (i.e., Planned Parenthood) in the way that Perry has done. Of course, Perry doesn’t care if no women in Texas get family planning access through Medicaid, so this is a win for wingnuts and a loss for women.
Can’t wait to find out what kind of countertops Carolyn Jones has. And no doubt the baby was deformed because God was punishing her for cheating on her husband. It would be irresponsible not to speculate.
I read the whole thing. Words cannot describe the hatred I feel for these theocratic bastards.
I just finished it too. Damn. Just damn already.
@Egg Berry: I started to skim it towards the end. Probably for the best, as punching the crap out of my monitor at work would most likely require some sort of non-expletive filled explanation.
I need to breathe deeply before I drive home. At least at home there’s sweet booze waiting…
On a kind of related note, does anyone know of a site where you can find, say, 50 links to 50 awful things that Republicans said or did to women all in one nice place? So if someone says “Republicans aren’t so bad”, you have a list all in one place…Here’s where Jon Kyl said this, here’s where Santorum said this, and that, and this, here’s a bill Republicans passed here, here’s a bill they tried to pass there”.
Another one for race would be good too. “Here’s that letter written by a tea party leader. Here’s that pic with Obama as a witch doctor, here’s that one with the play money that has watermelon and fried chicken on it, here’s the one where Fox calls Mrs. Obama a baby mama…”.
Does anyone know where someone has pulled all that kind of stuff together?
I’d like to see this family’s story juxtaposed with that Virgina GOP ass clown’s speech about gettin’ jiggy with wifey with the faux-pron music.
This is what happens when you let morons run the government.
Motherfuckers are overreaching.
Emboldened by how successful they’ve been with anti-abortion laws at the state level (over the past, well, twenty years, really) they’ve doubled-down.
But it’s a bridge too far this time, I think.
Even in the mostly conservative-leaning American media it’s now all “trans-vaginal probes” and “anti-contraception”. A “war on women”.
We don’t win on this stuff unless we win at the ballot box, but this hubristic overreach by the goddamn fascists is a rare gift in that regard.
If the too-often-feckless Democrats can make hay with it, that is (and I think they just might).
When anyone in this house tries to go to texasobserver.org, we get a big warning page saying “Your computer or another computer on your network is compromised with a virus. This allows online criminals to use it as part of a botnet to send spam and attack websites.”
Is it us, or them?
Doonesbury isn’t far off. It’s insanity.
Culture of Truth
Well, they wanted a war.. and now they have one. I just think it will turn out differently than they expect…
I read that tis morning and cried. Then I was so angry I had to pace it off before I hit something.
I cannot come up with the words to describe the contempt I have for the conservatives who are pushing this stuff. The cruelty is mind boggling. It is so cruel and hateful and unnecessary.
This made me deeply angry. So many people are hurt by this process, even in this one story.
So why don’t the Doctors/medical staff refuse to obey these unconscionable laws? Isn’t a violation of the free speech rights of the Doctors to force them to read what amounts to lies to patients seeking abortions?
Small government conservatives, indeed.
I just went there and didn’t have such a problem.
Felinious Wench, Team Uterati
This made me physically sick.
Jay in Oregon
There’s also this ad:
And they’re trying to raise money for another one.
I hope this women has her counter tops in order, and ready for inspection.
And these bastards parade in front of everyone and themselves and call themselves holy. My strategic empathy reserves have gone dry and whatever quaint residual habits I had of in-person politeness are wearing paper thin.
AMA? Probably locked in committee and also worried about jeopardizing relationships with increasingly Catholic hospitals. Just a guess.
These are good questions. It seems like more than a free speech issue, though. The state is interfering in medical practice, dictating procedures and forcing doctors to relay information that is not medically necessary.
I do not know why doctors or medical associations appear to be so cravenly complacent here.
@Culture of Truth:
Damn straight. The Republicans want to shrink government until it’s small enough to
drown in a bathtubfit into a woman’s vagina.
It may have actually happened earlier, but I knew the bastards had “jumped the shark” and lost the media on this shit when I saw Santorum’s pet billionaire (and fellow Scottsdalian – I’m so proud) Foster Friess being interviewed by Mrs. Greenspan (I think on MSNBC) and he pulled that clueless “back in my day the girls just put an aspirin between their knees” bullshit, and Mrs. Greenspan was so taken aback and even momentarily speechless.
Limbaugh’s vicious attack on Fluke was an entire cargo-ship load of shit dumped in the punchbowl, of course, but there were countless turds in there already.
The fascists have lost the message. Now they need to lose some elections.
Fuck all fascists, theocratic and otherwise. They are the enemy of humanity (always have been).
@Brachiator: @Patricia Kayden:
While it might be morally satisfying for doctors and other practitioners to practice some civil disobedience, that will do little good for the women, like the one who wrote the article, who need abortion procedures today. And don’t think the state theocrats aren’t looking for any excuse to shut down the whole operation of PP.
That doesn’t excuse the AMA. Nothing excuses the AMA.
@efgoldman — Yes. Exactly.
I read the whole thing. She’s a gifted writer and therefore able to powerfully express what so many women are going through. Jesus and I both wept.
This from the hypocrites who say the government shouldn’t get between a patient and their doctor.
We better fight this with all we have. Men and women. This has to stop and we need to restore respect for women on all levels especially their personal health decisions.
Maybe because they have a well justified fear of assassination if they get too deeply involved in abortion. Death threats, combined with the occasional bombing and shooting, have been disturbingly effective in the abortion wars.
They are suffering fetishists. The central event in the religion is the torture death of their deity. More suffering is always more Christlike. It’s just best if you can inflict the suffering on others rather than be forced to endure it.
Well, unfortunately, a fair number of medical professionals are also fascists.
Even if they think this is all going too far, they will twist themselves into pretzel shapes to justify.
My wife’s an RN at a large hospital here, and there are plenty of doctors and nurses there who do just that.
This being Sheriff Joe Arpaio County, the numbers may be skewed significantly rightward compared to other places, but even nationally there’s a discouragingly large number of fascist medical personnel (higher percentage of doctors than nurses, I would surmise, likely due to the whole wealth-thing).
Also, who are these men who only want to have sex when their woman wants to have a baby? Shouldn’t they be in the priesthood, following their natural proclivities?
When I first saw the word “webninja” I thought it said “webjina.”
thank you for the link
must spread the word on the GOP WAR ON WOMEN
@swbarnes2: I don’t know, but if you find one before I do, let me know. It should go up on every blog we (collectively) have.
From what I’ve heard, the AMA leans pretty right. A friend’s son is a doctor who does not belong to the AMA. He doesn’t have a high opinion of the org.
Culture of Truth
Free speech, yes, no doubt. I would point out also, that contrary to what some people seem to think, the right to abortion is still the law of the law the land. For now.
Doctors (or some of them) may be pushing back a bit. I read on dkos this morning about the debate on the bill in Pennsylvania being delayed because the Pennsylvania Medical Society was saying that the bill “would significantly jeopardize the open dialogue within the physician-patient relationship, which is the very foundation upon which modern medicine was built.”
The group behind the campaign to restrict access to abortion is called the Americans United for Life (AUL). They have a comprehensive strategy providing boilerplate legislation and policy guides that have been vetted by their team of attorneys and public relations professionals. In their own words:
“We are continually working to help legislators enact new pro-life laws
that will go into effect and not be unnecessarily tied up in court so
they can save lives today while continuing to roll back Roe v. Wade in
the courts. To do that, we educate legislators on the issues and
provide them with model legislation and legal advice on legislative
language. We work hand-in-hand with legislators to minimize avoidable
problems so activist judges can’t easily tie a good law up for years in
court or strike it down completely.”
To learn more go to: http://www.aul.org/about-aul/philosophy/
Christ. The flying monkey brigade will commence rifling though this poor couple’s trash cans any minute now.
I don’t see this as a civil disobedience issue on the part of doctors. The state is interfering in the practice of medicine.
These laws have nothing directly to do with medical care, and instead serve only to try to influence a woman’s (and her partner’s) decisions.
Perhaps. Maybe there are other issues at play. It’s all pretty depressing.
And you don’t think the state would punish these doctors, with a suspended license or worse, if they didn’t comply with the law?
Seems like I’d trust the doctor(s) and the family much more than any of the “Charlie Churches” who pushed to have this barbaric practice implimented.
I am deeply sorry for this woman, her family, and the health care providers who had to fumfer through the state’s draconian edicts.
The religious right has established time and again that their concern for that entity from the moment of conception quite clearly evaporates entirely at the moment of birth.
They are our own homegrown Taliban.
Carolyn Jones’ story is one of the saddest things I’ve read in a long time. No one should have to suffer such tortured, intentional humiliation.
These vicious, scumbag GOP assclowns pushing these sorts of laws are simply evil personified to the point of inhumanity.
@Gex: Which is the exactly problem. The whole point of the suffering servant is that he is suffering on behalf of others.
I would expect the local, state and national medical associations to defend doctors who did not comply. The lack of compliance does not have anything to do with the practice of medicine.
And neither you nor I know for certain that the state could pull a license for actions that have nothing to do with actual medical practice.
Again, that there do not appear to be legal challenges to this law is amazing. As time permits, I guess some google searches are in order.
I understand that some people are strongly opposed to abortion (have such people in my family), but I just don’t see how situations like the one in this post advance the “pro-life” agenda. This is nothing but politicians interfering with a legal medical procedure based on their moral leanings.
Interesting how the slippery slope on the right has moved from abortions to contraception.
Small town OB
Although I don’t live in Texas, I live in a state that BJ covers frequently. I live in the rural area, where the main election is the primary in the spring. And yes, I registered republican just so I have the chance to influence local elections! (and maybe mess with the national ones too)
Because I have done a handful of abortions similar to what Ms. Jones underwent, my husband has obtained a CCW…I worry for the safety of my children who are in elementary school. I worry about others in the community finding it out and my practice shriveling, causing us financial difficulties (I am our family’s income). I worry about leaving my children motherless if it becomes widely known.
And for those women whom have had an abortion through me, they are SO appreciative. I have been lucky enough to deliver the next pregnancy of some of these women, who had awful fetal anomalies in the previous pregnancy. Deliveries are frequently emotional, but these are extra-special to me.
As poster Kay has noted (and others), some conservatives have a huge problem with contraception. They see America as skipping down the path of unrighteousness after Griswold v Connecticut, the legal case in the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating laws prohibiting the use of contraception; and running toward wickedness after the invention of the birth control pill. This interfered with the deity’s will (be fruitful and multiply and all that) and gave women a huge degree of control over their reproductive destinies, both obviously twin evils.
Some conservatives and fundamentalists have been seething ever since 1965. And now their anger has been unleashed, and women must be forced to pay the price.
Just a brief reminder of the care the Catholic Church took in support of babies and mothers in Spain. Spanish baby-snatching investigators accuse 80-year-old nun
From what I understand, the legal challenge against the ultrasound law in Texas was in fact brought by doctors. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful, and the law was upheld.
As for what this woman had to endure, she’d get no sympathy from the forced birth brigade, who’d tell her she should have had the baby anyway and was carrying out genocide against the disabled. See: Santorum, Rick.
I’m surprised (he said long after the thread was dead) that no one has seen fit to mention that Ms. Jones’ article is the correct and perfect answer to those (*ahem*, burns- are you listening?) who pish-posh the concerns of those who point out that the Christopath Right is doing its level best to re-enslave women by legislative fiat.
They’re not going to quit trying, and they will succeed in making people suffer. They already are.
Usually I read the articles about what’s going on in this country, hearing about the terrible things being crafted by blowhards and incompetents, and it seems so distant. They are outrages, and they make me burn, but mostly they just facts. Then, every once in a while, I read something like this, or the article a few weeks ago about the gay bullying at schools in Michelle Bachman’s district. Something that actually connects these terrible actions with human lives.
Then, like now, I don’t burn with anger. Instead I’m filled with so much sorrow at the ways we manage to lessen the lives of the people around us. Where no misery is found, people always seem to manage to bring more into existence.
I hear people complain about the Democrats, and sometimes I agree with those criticisms. Sometimes, in fact, it hardly seems like they’re any better at all. Then I see something like this, and I remember. Better mild stupidity than open malice.
ABL: You are, I hope, prepared and ready to combat the Wiki damage that the conservatrolls will implement upon this as soon as they find out about it, I hope?