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.