The XX Factor

Oklahoma’s Expensive Vaginal Probing

There comes a time when a political observer is forced to conclude that conservative legislators enjoy wasting taxpayer money for the hell of it. Or at least this political observer was forced to conclude this over the past week. It’s not just the Arizona “papers, please” law, which will waste taxpayer money while allowing the real crime rate to go up . It’s also Oklahoma legislators’ dogged insistence on passing outrageous laws designed to shame and hurt women who seek or even may seek abortion, laws that immediately and routinely drain the taxpayers’ wallets in legal fees spent on their defense.

The vote overturning the governor’s veto on two laws-a mandatory ultrasound law and a law that encourages doctors to trick women into bearing children with birth defects against their will-had barely passed when the Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the law . The Center has already successfully sued the state of Oklahoma for similar anti-choice restrictions in the past, costing the taxpayers tons of money, strictly so legislators can win a game of, “Who hates women more than we do?”

And boy, do they do a good job at proving that they do. These laws exhibit a perverse love of poking and prodding women’s bodies for no good reason-and often for great harm. The ultrasound law specifies that a vaginal probe must be used, even though doctors often prefer to skip that if their patients have been through sexual trauma in the past. But it’s hard to imagine these legislators caring too much about rape victims. They love the idea of penetrating the vaginas of unwilling women so much that this is the second time they’ve tried to pass this law. And the other law is an attempt to encourage doctors to perform amniocenteses on pregnant women, but withhold any information from the patients regarding actual test results. Apparently, sticking needles into pregnant women for no good reason seems like reward enough to these legislators.

Apparently the legislature of Oklahoma thinks they have money to burn defending these laws that have more than a whiff of sexual assault by proxy to them. They should tell that to the employees around the state who are facing layoffs and mandatory furloughs to make up for a $1.2 billion shortfall . Sure, the people of Oklahoma say they need jobs, food assistance, education, a criminal justice system. But their legislators know better. They need to spend money they don’t have forcing women to have their vaginas probed against their wills if they have the nerve to have abortions.