The XX Factor

You Know What They Say In Indiana: Two Transvaginal Probes Are Better Than One!

Major surgery.


For the 62 percent of women who have their abortions in the first 9 weeks of pregnancy, RU486, aka the abortion pill, can be a more attractive option than a surgical abortion—especially for women who would like to minimize the amount of time they spend with medical professionals sticking stuff in their vaginas. Women usually take the first pill that terminates the pregnancy at the doctor and then the second pill, which flushes out the uterus, at home. The follow-up can often be as simple as taking a blood test two weeks later to make sure the pills worked.

But now, Indiana Republicans have caught on to this medical abortion racket and are looking to pass a bill to make sure that a woman getting an abortion spends as much time splayed out, feet in stirrups, as possible. A bill requiring a woman to get two transvaginal ultrasounds, one before and one after a non-surgical abortion, has moved out of committee in the Indiana Senate. There’s the usual feigned concern for women’s health being touted to rationalize the bill, but it’s really just more of the same: Ritualized humiliation for the one in three American women who will get an abortion in her lifetime, at the behest of a prudish state. 

The bill also requires abortion providers that only provide medication abortions to meet state requirements for surgical facilities

Those requirements, opponents say, potentially would force the Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette to close. That clinic offers the abortion pill but does not perform surgical abortions. If the bill passes, the clinic would have to widen hallways and doorways to meet state specifications for surgery and install anesthesia, surgical and sterilization equipment.

More doctors and clinics have started to offer abortion pill services, even if they don’t offer surgical abortion, precisely because it’s a safe and easy way to expand access without having to meet the expensive standards of surgical facilities. That expanded access is clearly what anti-choice legislators are trying to shut down, but all of this also has a psychological component to it. After all, the excessive tests and equipment makes it seem like getting an early term abortion is a major medical procedure, even though it’s not, and major medical procedures are scary.

While the Indiana legislature is not going to dissuade women from getting abortions, it will make the entire experience unnecessarily more arduous and frightening, which is good enough for the punish-the-dirty-girls crowd. Which state will be the first to require women seeking medication abortions to prep for surgery and be put under general anesthesia?