Politics and Culture in the Comic Zone

Daniel Rigney

Daniel Rigney
New Texas, USA
August 01
free-range writer
In this writing workshop and citizen's blog I'm exploring various short forms, often from a satiric angle. My interests include politics, culture and the human comedy; old and new media; social theory and urban life; the commercialization, corporatization and tabloidization of everything; sustainability; Unitarianism (UU); coffee; and writing (sorry, I mean providing content). Turtle stamp is from Tandy Leather. Interested in republishing a piece? Contact drigney3@gmail.com.


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MARCH 28, 2012 12:35AM

Mandatory Sonograms and Medical Travel

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Mandatory Sonograms and Medical Travel

By Daniel Rigney

I predict that recent mandatory sonogram laws will result in what sociologists call “unintended consequences"of legislation. Specifically, such laws will cause an upsurge among affected women in what we might euphemistically call "medical tourism" -- or more plainly, attempts to escape forced sonograms by traveling to less authoritarian jurisdictions for medical assistance.  

Now that several states, including Texas and Virginia, have passed laws mandating ultrasounds (vaginally invasive in Texas, abdominal in Virginia) among women considering abortions, is it not inevitable that some women who object to these laws as intrusive and insulting, and who may regard forced and medically unnecessary vaginal probes as a form of legal and literal rape, will (if they can afford to do so) take medical trips to states or countries that have no such laws on the books?

This is the way some girls in trouble handled things back when I was in high school. Think of it as a “traditional” approach to the issue, and one that avoids the back-alley coat-hanger alternative that has killed so many women in the past. As Bill Clinton might say, out-of-state and international abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.

How soon will it be before someone compiles an authoritative and up-to-date list of states and countries that have no mandatory ultrasound laws?

Maybe travel corporations like Priceline and Travelocity will see the opportunity to offer not just hotel, flight, and rental car reservations, but appointments with participating doctors as well. These deals could be packaged as “family planning excursions” or “deeply personal getaways” by the Don Drapers of our time.

State tourism agencies might likewise tout the virtues of medical travel, seeing that an influx of new tourist dollars would redound to the benefit of their states’ strained revenues. Be watching for Las Vegas-type ads with winking slogans like “What happens in Massachusetts stays in Massachusetts.”

One serious problem inherent in the medical travel strategy is that, as in every other aspect of American life, class bias will favor those who can afford "labor-saving" travel over those who cannot. But the class biases that pervade American society have rarely troubled us much in the recent past – this being the land of equal opportunity and all.  Why start thinking about them now? 

Besides, extreme economic inequalities are not the moral issue here. Abortion is. Isn't it? Let's not get all intellectual about this.

In any case, my sociological prediction is that medical travel will almost certainly become a common practice among the affluently fertile as a result of forced sonograms. This is is not the last time you’ll be hearing about "labor-saving" escapes from authoritarian jurisdictions like Texas, where forced insertion of the Perry Probe is already being enforced by the state against women's will.

This, at any rate, is my social forecast. Like your local weather forecaster, I could well be wrong. The Times will tell.

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Sounds like excellent fodder for a piece of satire or a Saturday Night Live skit.
Although, I don't think SNL would disarm their skit with disclaimers, before and after. The post can have teeth if you want it too.
You are so afraid of your own potential to be amazing, aren't you?
Thanks, J. The disclaimers are mainly satirical -- part of the joke, playing the seemingly neutral narrator. I'm going for the low key approach instead of the rant because I think it may be more effective, especially among anti-choicers. It's just my style. I think, though, that I'll add a reference to transvaginal rape, just to make my own thinly veiled personal perspective more clear.
That used to be (don't know current status) in Ireland - hop over to England for a day. Before abortion was, as is currently the case, available here in Canada and the U.S. had just instigated it, I flew down to NYC for the day. The authorities are trying to stop abortion with the magic-wand thing, but they'll only stop it (or reduce it) locally.

Now that things have taken such a reactionary turn in the U.S., people from NYC can fly up here. However, sorry, our medical care is 'free' only for Canadian taxpayers.
Thanks for your informative comment, Myriad! I hear Canada is beautiful in the spring for those who can afford a vacation to our more civilized neighbor to the north. By the way, I put a few more teeth in this piece just now at the suggestion of J. above.
I was one of those who couldn't afford travel (1956,) went the back-alley route but, happily, survived. Unfortunately, extreme social/economic inequality IS very much still an issue. Those who would now ban abortion have absolutely no idea of the desperation caused by unintended pregnancy, and the lengths to which desperate women will go to be un-pregnant again. Women, by and large women without power or resources, are already taking dangerous risks in states where layers of restrictions exist. I wish I didn't fear we're losing the battle for choice. But it's already lost in some areas, and I say go for it with the above, and any other way to get across the message that there is, ahem, a woman involved in such circumstances, not just a fetus. Thanks for the good piece.
I can't believe it took me this long to remember the subtext to Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants. They were on a "medical holiday"...
Somehow, I had a visual of Tina Fayon a plane headed for Thailand sitting next to Rick Santorum thanking him for providing the excuse to procure her abortion abroad and see the world. R
Fran, sincere thanks for sharing your personal perspective on abortion. I hope certain others read it and take it to heart.

J, I wish I could say that I was making a clever literary allusion to Hemingway when I mentioned medical holiday, but I was just making up another one of my own phrases, as I am wont to do.

Rodney, that's a funny image. Women in Texas would more likely venture to New Mexico than to Thailand unless had a lot of money, as Tina does.