February 15, 2012
Tobias Barrington Wolff, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Around the country, women are being told that they should feel shame about their bodies, their sexuality, and the choices that they make as adults. The latest assault is taking place in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the invasion of women's bodies is so literal that it would qualify as farce if it were not chilling reality.
The Virginia legislature has passed a bill that will force women seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound. The mandated procedure requires that a woman's vagina be distended with a speculum and that a probe be inserted into the vagina and manipulated around so as to produce a high-resolution picture of the uterus and surrounding organs -- once again, for no medically sound reason. Governor Bob McDonnell has said that he will sign the bill. As part of the same package, the legislature also enacted a "personhood" law that would define life to begin at the stage of a fertilized egg, even before implantation, and hence would outlaw many forms of contraception and all abortions.

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