Snip from YouTube
Transcript and full video here.
Ryan says women won’t fall for these side issues.
“And I don’t think they’re going to take the bait of all these distractions that the President is trying to throw at them.”
I am not seeking to terminate a pregnancy, but I’ll admit that when my doc told me I would need a transvaginal ultrasound I was sorely tempted to ask her if a complimentary abortion came along with it. Ha. She is a little stern so I didn’t think she would appreciate my humor.
However, it did give me an opportunity to reflect upon attempts by (mostly) Republican men to force pregnant women to have a transvaginal ultrasound before accessing their legal right to have an abortion. In case you’ve never had this procedure, I decided to share my experience.
A week or so ago, I developed a very painful feeling in my lower back that sent me to MedExpress one Sunday morning. They diagnosed me with a kidney infection and sent me home with meds, telling me to rest and call my PCP. I did that the very next day and ended up on a merry-go-round of doctors filling in for my PCP who is on leave. After a few days, the nurse determined that I was not healing very fast so she had me come in for another exam, bloodwork and eventually a CT scan. At this point (last Thursday), the doctor thought I had a kidney stone (yeah!) but the CT scan proved her to be wrong.
Instead, they found small cysts on my kidney which are apparently “nothing” and a cyst on each ovary which she identified as a “teratoma” – the word is derived from the Greek teras, meaning monster, which Virchow coined in the first edition of his book on tumors published in 1863. (Yes i borrowed that from Wikipedia)
Ouch. Monster? Well, it appears that I have a very cool cyst that is oft mistaken for an unborn twin because it contains cells that develop into teeth, hair, bones and fat tissue (i have fat tissue only.) These are somewhat present at birth and usually need to be removed either using medication or minimally invasive surgery to prevent them from developing into cancerous cells – I don’t quite understand the medical part, but … I have unborn twins in my body! With no teeth! That’s cool, right?
That’s when the doctor laid the transvaginal ultrasound on me. She wanted to be sure I was familiar with the process. I did at that point bring up the heated public debate over mandating them and how I was quite familiar. I wasn’t thrilled but … I also don’t want to be featured on a cable show for having my unborn twins rupture inside me and crawl into the daylight. I jest. I hope.
My pain improved slightly, but I’m still very uncomfortable. Tylenol helps a bit, but I’m anxious to have this resolved. So off to the ultrasound place I went today.
The procedure is not a breeze. The tech was very nice & the room itself was comfortable and designed to minimize discomfort. She began with a traditional pelvic scan that was fine if a little uncomfortable because my abdomen is swollen and tender. Then I had to empty my bladder, slide into the stirrups and have a large probe inserted into my vagina (I said it!) – a probe that resembles a long vibrator (not in a curvy dildo way.) It was only inserted maybe two inches BUT IT HURT. I was trying not to scream because I knew she was just doing her job, but OMG.
It hurt because I’ve got cysts, infection and apparently fibroids on my uterus. It hurt because I am ill and tired and worn out and not sleeping well much less worried about what it is going to reveal. I can’t imagine it would be MORE comfortable if I had a fetus growing in my uterus and experienced equally uncomfortable abdominal and pelvic issues.
But I’m glad it is available. Because I NEEDED IT to address a potentially serious health care situation. Not to address the concerns of gyno-obsessed Republican men who don’t like vaginas.
Frankly, I would not have minded if the tech was a man as long as he was compassionate, professional and competent. But I don’t need an insurance agent, “business man” and gentleman farmer helping him examine my ovaries.
By choice, I have never been pregnant. If I had become pregnant, I would have seriously considered an abortion for personal reasons that led me to decide not to have children and I have no problem sharing that. I can’t begin to imagine being forced to undergo this unnecessary procedure to access that medical care. Why? The only thing I can fathom (without having been there) is that it would make me feel like crap and want to run far far away to give birth to a child I didn’t want with a frayed safety net to sort of help me. I can’t imagine it would give me the warm fuzzies – just layers of guilt and anguish. Not everyone will feel that way, but the point is – this is unnecessary.
But I can just imagine, I can’t really know what it would feel like. Hours later, I’m still sore and uncomfortable. I’m still a little scared what the results will mean for me and my health. But I had a medical procedure that will provide useful information to treat my symptoms and the underlying cause of those symptoms. I was not undergoing an unnecessary medical procedure to control my choices and bend my will to the mighty white men.
Right now, my main concern is whether I’m going to have to have my ovaries removed or some other partial hysterectomy that will send me spiraling into (much too) early menopause. Trying to sort through all of the available information on my various symptoms as well as the potential treatments (more pills, groan) is overwhelming.
And you know what I keep thinking about? Sitting in the comfortable little ultrasound waiting room, I noticed that all of the magazines were about pregnancy and parenting. The cover of each magazine featured a very attractive white woman in some stage of pregnancy wearing million dollar outfits and beaming for all of the world to see. And before I turned on my phone to while away the time, I thought about the fact that there was no alternative – no Time or Newsweek that might have a story about the economy or poverty, no National Geographic to lend an international perspective, not even a Sports Illustrated with a female athlete who put her career first. There were no women of color, no women who looked tired or a little stressed. There were no fathers. No plus sized women.
While this facility does not provide abortions, it did strike me that the message is the same – the ideal family has a defined look and those of us who fall outside of that spectrum shouldn’t be reproducing, but if we do == we need to be “responsible.” And that sort of boils down into the idea that sex is bad because if we don’t have sex, we won’t have unwanted pregnancies.
And that’s a fairy tale.
I was in a lot of pain for the rest of the day. I slept for 11 hours and woke up with my vagina feeling more normal, but my kidney pain in full throttle. So now I wait for the test results and remind myself that this was an important tool for my health, not an unnecessary barrier to my making decisions about my own body.
If I was opposed in principle to this horrid control tactic before, I am firmly opposed in practice now. Describing this as unpainful or a minor inconvenience is a terrible lie – it is uncomfortable, awkward and unsettling to have someone insert a probe into your vagina in the context of a health scenario. It is not like filling out an extra form or even making a co-payment – it is an invasive procedure that should only be used when medically necessary.
PS: If you think this is “Too Much Information” — that’s the point! What business do you or anyone else have with my vagina whether it has a fetus involved or not? NONE.
Dear Jake Wheatley, Adam Ravenstahl, Harry Readshaw, Dom Costa, Dan Frankel, Joe Preston, Dan Deasy, and Paul Costa.
Gentlemen. As you are aware, my House District (22) has no Representative in your august body. Nor is there any realistic hope that we will have a special election in April to ensure we are represented in the current year. Given my belief that our former Representative’s decision to skip many of her job duties to run for another office, we have effectively been disenfranchised for almost two years under this current plan.
Silenced, I should say for 2 years. A predominantly and important African-American community has been silenced, overlooked and disregarded for two years. Two years. A community with a significant LGBT population. Silenced. A community with very poor and vulnerable people. Rendered mute. Rendered invisible. Unheard. Hushed. Stifled.
What do we do? The redistricting map put Manchester into at least 4 different districts depending upon whom I was speaking with at the time – Mr. Wheatley, Mr. Ravenstahl, Mr. Dom Costa and Mr Readshaw (not sure how that worked). But the court rendered that impossible.
So, I am silenced. However, you are considering legislation that impacts my body … my uterus, my free will, my constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy (that also protects my sexual orientation), my consent, my safety should I be the victim of sexual assault, potentially my health insurance costs. And my body. HB 1077 impacts my body and yet I have no voice – no one to listen to my point of view and take it into consideration when casting a vote. No one to hear me. No one who will even read my email because it’s from the “wrong” zip code.
It is ironic that my former Representative missed many votes because of pregnancy she chose to carry to full term, but chose a course of action that might strip me of my choice.
Let me be clear … forcing me to endure a sonogram is not going to change my mind about seeking an abortion. It doesn’t matter what my persona opinion is on abortion. It matters that you are investing energy into controlling women’s lives and bodies and stripping them of dignity to accomplish this end. It matters that many of my neighbors struggle to find jobs, pay rent, feed their families and gain access to health care in the looming shadow of Allegheny General Hospital. It matters that should they be able to make time in the midst of survival to address this violation of our bodies … we have no voice. No individual voice and no collective voice.
So please take note. I am opposed to this legislation. I am appalled that State Representative Harry Readshaw responded to a constituent with a vile disregard for his duty to listen to her. You should read that post and call for an immediate investigation into his including personal information about her in what appears to be an attempt to intimidate her. That’s an egregious violation of his position. If he or his staff did this, you must be my voice.
You MUST listen to me. You owe it to me. Your House rules permitted a seated member of the House to seek other office while retaining their seat. You OWE it to me to pick up the slack. You ALL represent me. You must change your web forms to accept my zip code (15233) You must respond to me (preferably without tell me about your daughter’s miscarriages and fertility, okay?)
I challenge any of you to respond. I will forward this to your offices. I challenge you to remember that Manchester among the rest of the 22nd District should not be rendered mute while critical issues disproportionately impacting poor families are being discussed and voted upon. I challenge you to do more than process my driver’s license requests and negotiating with PennDOT on potholes in my neighborhood.
Man up. That’s appropriate since you are all men. The shenanigans to fill our seat are beneath you. Maybe not, but I’d like to think you aren’t going to permit a would-be-felon to represent me. And seriously … you should require elected officials to use FMLA like the rest of us should we choose to skip the government sanctioned vaginal rape and give birth. (I realize our bill isn’t “as bad” as Virginia, but they dropped it.)
I’ll be following this. It is stunning to me that Dan Frankel voted for this to be the Year of the Bible. It is stunning to me that Jake Wheatley doesn’t think we should fund public education. Dan Deasy scares the hell out of me. And Mr. Readshaw has lost any ounce of moral authority by his recent actions.
It’s puzzling that I end up wanting to be in Adam Ravenstahl’s district. But I feel better connecting with Perry Hilltop, Fineview and other struggling Northside communities than Castle Shannon.
So, how do I remove the General Assembly generated muzzle and speak my piece?
Found this through the Post-Gazette’s Cutting Edge:
From Alternet …
On last night’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Dan Savage (of Santorum Google bomb fame) discussed how the candidate’s problematic views extend beyond homophobia. “One of the things I’m constantly reminding people about Rick Santorum is that he doesn’t have merely an anti-gay agenda — he has an anti-straight agenda too,” Savage told Olbermann. ”He’s against birth control, he’s against abortion, he’s against pornography, he’s against all sorts of things that straight people use and enjoy frequently….You need to know, heterosexual Americans, that gay-bashing isn’t his only hobby.”
Excellent point. Don’t be offended on my behalf, dear heterosexual allies and friends, be very afraid on your own behalf. I guess when I think about it … Robert Traynham and the other nameless- LGBT employees/supporters of Santorum have betrayed us all. But all the straight folks traipsing around on his behalf are basically setting you up, too. You should be MORE outraged. Hmmm.
Sorry about the video issue. Click through to the Alternet site to watch the video. My web “team” (aka guy) is working on it.