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Women, be aware: Access to birth control coming under fire

Updated: May 29, 2014 4:32PM

I n 1973, a landmark decision was made in the name of women’s health and reproductive rights. The Supreme Court legalized abortion in the case of Roe vs. Wade, and women across the country finally earned the right to choose.

And, ever since that day, women have been fighting to keep that right. Almost 40 years later, abortion rights are just as fragile as ever. Just recently, the state of Virginia ruled that every woman seeking an abortion must undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before it is permitted.

A transvaginal ultrasound is a pelvic ultrasound in which a probe is inserted into the vagina. Although it is a procedure that can be quite useful as a health measure, as a measure of preventing abortion, it is the very definition of invasive and cruel. The idea behind the legislature is that by forcing women to see an ultrasound, they will feel too guilty to end the pregnancy. And, instead, they will raise a baby that they might not have the emotional, mental, or financial ability to care for. 

In other words, after already agonizing over the hardest decision of their lives, women will walk into the doctor’s office and be asked to disrobe. A device will be inserted into the vagina and the doctor will be forced to walk them through the ultrasound, explaining the image and making the woman feel as guilty and violated as possible.

Perhaps worst of all, the new ruling makes no consideration for women who are victims of rape or incest. Hence, after enduring the horrible indignity of rape, women will be asked to yet again be violated against their will. It doesn’t matter if the procedure is performed in a doctor’s office and that it is meant to be impersonal. To the woman lying in stirrups who is being vaginally probed, it is personal. It can feel like getting raped all over again.

Nor is Virginia the only state to make such a ruling. In fact, it is the eighth in the country. Add to this the fact that women’s reproductive rights are constantly under attack in today’s heated political setting, and it is easy to feel as if Roe vs. Wade is but a distant memory. From Planned Parenthood nearly losing its funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to the recent comment by Christian conservative Foster Friess that women should “keep an aspirin between their knees,” women’s reproductive rights are hanging by a veritable thread in this country.

The reality is that no woman wants to get an abortion. It is a heart-wrenching decision that no one takes lightly, and nor is it an acceptable replacement for birth control. Yet mistakes do happen. Condoms break and the Pill doesn’t always work.

And, worse, horrific crimes occur against women everyday. Women are raped and pregnancies can happen as a result. Nothing could be worse than making these victims endure another rape at the hands of their doctor, especially in the name of a political agenda. 

Access to birth control is an absolute must for a healthy and developed civilization. The ability to plan and space pregnancies must be a priority, and by preventing access to birth control or shaming and humiliating women who have made the tough decision to undergo abortion, we are stepping decades back in time to an era where women had no rights and no control over their own bodies. If we must step back in time, let’s step back to 1973, when reproductive rights were championed and when women finally were given the right to choose.

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