Favorite

The war for the womb 

Garry Trudeau, the "Doonesbury" cartoonist, produced a series of cartoons so biting on anti-abortion legislation that a number of newspapers were too timid to run them this week.

He depicted a woman seeking an abortion branded with the scarlet letter "A" and forced through a series of shameful requirements — notably an ultrasound test — by middle-aged male state legislators.

Trudeau told a newspaper he was surprised to learn reproductive rights had not been decided 40 years ago by Roe v. Wade. Enemies of women's freedom never quit fighting. Abortions are increasingly hard to obtain and government support is prohibited. Republicans have expanded their agenda to discourage birth control, only guaranteeing more people in need of abortions.

Arkansas is no laggard in oppression, particularly with the rise in Republican legislators. "Republican" is now synonymous, at least in the South, with anti-abortion, anti-sex education, anti-birth control and anti-gay. Republicans pushed hard for a number of even stricter abortion rules in 2011, but mostly met defeat in the House Public Health Committee chaired by Democratic Rep. Linda Tyler.

Republicans have been lusting to make Tyler's run for a Senate seat against Sen. Jason Rapert a womb war. An emerging gender gap, inspired in part by Virginia ultrasound legislation similar to what Trudeau depicted, might make that iffier for Republicans. We'll see soon.

Rapert, a part-time Baptist evangelist, sponsored a bill that died in Tyler's committee that was identical in key respects to Virginia legislation that stoked a recent firestorm of pro-choice protest.

Rapert's bill, like the original legislation in Virginia, required women seeking abortion to first have a test to determine whether the fetus a woman is carrying has a detectible heartbeat. The test was to be performed, both bills said without specificity, using "standard medical practice."

In Virginia, opponents noted in debate, a special test is sometimes required in early pregnancy when the heartbeat is harder to detect. It requires insertion of a 10- to 14-inch probe into a woman's vagina. The legislation doesn't allow a woman to refuse the probe.

Rapert, in a one-word answer — "No" — to my question, said his bill wouldn't require this functional equivalent of rape by instrument. But an Arkansas abortion provider tells me he's wrong. His bill was no different than the Virginia bill, amended under intense national attention to exclude mandatory vaginal probes of unwilling women.

External ultrasounds are routinely used by abortion providers. The transvaginal probes are used occasionally; particularly to be sure a woman doesn't have a tubal pregnancy. Arkansas law already requires that women be offered the opportunity to see the results of any ultrasound tests and are given, in advance, a brochure on fetal development.

With genital probing or without, Rapert's bill was offensive. Rapert, a leading critic of health insurance mandates, would mandate a medical procedure that is sometimes not needed. He would require the procedure 24 hours before an abortion (Virginia only requires a two-hour advance procedure) to make it a two-day trip for women coming long distances to get an abortion. The bill required a woman to sign a notice about what the test found, as if she were a school child. It provided no exception for rape and incest victims.

Linda Tyler is no liberal. I'm not sure she appreciates my publicizing that her committee stood up for women's medical autonomy against patriarchal preachers. I'm not sure she appreciates my pointing out that Jason Rapert championed denial of women's reproductive rights and mandated an invasive medical procedure a woman might not want or need. But I can do no other.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Jason Rapert, Linda Tyler

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Aid politics

    The still-unfolding catastrophe in Houston is, first, a human tragedy. But when politicians try to tell you that a time of enormous human tragedy is not a time to talk about politics, it likely means the politics are embarrassing to them.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Charter secret

    These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Viewed

  • Storm president

    It's undeniable that President Trump's public approval has improved since the moment Hurricane Harvey came ashore in Texas the last week of August; polls showed his popularity up by approximately 2 points.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • Can't afford to gut ACA

    The Affordable Care Act was passed into law with the promise that it would make insurance affordable. Because of bipartisan leadership in Arkansas, we continue to strive to achieve that goal. While rhetoric abounds, it is important to understand the Arkansas experience.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Bad health care bill, again

    • Its hard to tell what the GOP in Arkansas care about beyond making life worse…

    • on September 20, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • I am very glad to see a lot of women running for government positions in…

    • on September 19, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Since Hillary's book has come out, the Hillary Bashers have starting ranting again. My thoughts:…

    • on September 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation