By BRIAN HOWEY
INDIANAPOLIS — Amidst all the ribald humor, the yuks, and even “Pope LaMarr I” at the Gridiron Dinner the other night, something leaped off the gigantic video screen in the Indiana Roof Ballroom.
It was a photo of a transvaginal probe, or an “ultrasound transducer.” It looks sort of like a 2-foot-long, hard plastic wand, with a handle and then a long, slender shaft with a round knob on the end. In practice, the ultrasound transducer is inserted into a woman’s vagina and pointed at the uterus. The intent is to produce an image of a fetus in the uterus.
During the stunt at the Gridiron Dinner, the transducer was compared to a mass transit bullet train.
Indiana lawmakers in the General Assembly — mostly men — have voted affirmatively in the Senate on SB371 to require such a probe of pregnant women who are seeking an abortion with the chemical drug RU486.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, a man one might presume has had a colonoscopy, which is really his business and not one I care to spend much time thinking about. And while the invasive colonoscopy is recommended in public service campaigns as a strategy against life-threatening colon cancer, Indiana government doesn’t mandate the procedure. If Indiana government mandated colonoscopies for men, the colon cancer rate would almost certainly dive and scores of lives would be saved.
Holdman also sponsors SB373, which would prevent whistleblowers from taking photos and videos inside agricultural and food processing facilities, an invasive commercial and fourth estate procedure.
Sue Swayze, the legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, told WBAA-FM the goal of SB371 is to protect the safety of a woman.
“I got pregnant vaginally. Something else could [enter] my vagina for a medical test that wouldn’t be that intrusive to me. So I find that argument a little ridiculous,” she said.
But that’s a decision she makes, and not her government.
This legislation is now headed to the Indiana House where freshman Republican Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, will be the sponsor. That’s a brilliant tactical move by the pro-life movement. Have a woman sponsor the bill.
I write because this is a situation every Hoosier should spend some time pondering. What are the limits of government when it comes to life and what happens to your body?
As a young man, I considered myself “pro-choice,” but after the birth of my first son I went through a personal transformation into a pro-life realm. But this is still tempered by the reality that if abortion is outlawed, the industry will simply move underground and into the black economy. The Republican Party I grew up in wanted government out of our lives, our bedrooms and our bodies.
The dilemma facing the pro-life movement is that it is unlikely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in the foreseeable future. Given the political realities, the movement’s tactics have moved into what Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute openly acknowledges as “pushing the envelope.”
“The courts have constricted the last step,” Smith said. “Clearly, technology is showing us there’s life in the womb. There’s a capacity to see the baby, the fetus, in great detail. It’s alive, it’s smiling, its heart is beating. We are doing surgeries on babies in the womb. And we are aborting babies in the womb.”
Of Holdman and others who are pushing the envelope, Smith added praise.
“I’m very proud of our legislators. They are testing the limits,” he said.
Thus, we have the potential for government to be ordering invasive procedures on someone seeking a legal abortion. Some might consider them to be high-tech guilt trips with no medical value.
At a Republican roundtable that included Gov. Mike Pence and Republican National Chairman Rience Priebus this past week in Indianapolis, an older white male made this observation: “I am pro-life, but Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and we will never overturn it. Our candidates should say, ‘I am pro-life, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and I am going to work as hard as I can to make life better for our children.’”
That message will be ignored at the Indiana Statehouse. SB371 likely will pass and Gov. Pence has said he will sign any pro-life legislation that crosses his desk. But it likely won’t save any lives.
Once passed, it will be challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. That group successfully brought a suit over the defunding of Planned Parenthood and that law was struck down by a federal court. Federal courts have struck down a similar law in Oklahoma and there’s an injunction on a North Carolina law.
So the question I place before you today is this: At what point does government have a mandate to enter your body? It already does with inoculating shots before you enter school. It used to be able to draft you and send you to war.
Is the government overstepping its bounds in this case?
— Brian Howey publishes at howeypolitics.com