So thanks to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, women seeking abortions in our state have the "right to know" what a fetus looks like. In particular, their own fetuses. And by "right to know," he means that beginning on July 1, they will be forced to undergo an ultrasound procedure. It's not the invasive transvaginal ultrasound that was first proposed, but it does involve a separate and costly procedure that is not medically necessary.
When I was nine weeks pregnant, I had an abdominal ultrasound and was eager to see it. Do you know what I saw? A shadow. Do you know what it cost my insurance company? About $200. Do you know what it costs today? Closer to $400. Who is going to pay for that "right to know?" And when did a right to know translate into a forced action? Here is our governor's explanation: "Women have a right to know all the available medical and legal information surrounding the abortion decision before giving legally effective informed consent."
You know what I think? I believe Gov. McDonnell thinks the women of our state are stupid. He thinks we are too stupid to understand what an abortion is or what it means. If he is truly embracing the right to know concept, he would force gun owners to view videos of people having their brains blown out by a shotgun. He would force the state's smokers (and tobacco growers and sellers) to view photos of emphysema patients begging for a cigarette as they lie in hospital beds receiving oxygen. He would force elected officials who know nothing about health care but legislate it anyway to actually listen to each of their constituents.
Now I'm not advocating for any of these "right to know" activities because I trust in the ability of each of us to make decisions guided by our heads, our hearts, our advisers and our families. We don't always make the right choices, and we often don't make choices that are embraced by those with differing ideologies. But forcing one group of people who make a legal choice you don't like seek expensive and unnecessary medical procedures is wrong and anti-American and, in this case, misogynistic.
So, on International Women's Day, I feel compelled to acknowledge my Governor's Right to Know Initiative by saying, "Shame on you, Gov. McDonnell." As a longtime resident of Virginia, as a woman and as the mother of a college-aged daughter, I am aghast at you twisting the concept of "right to know" in this situation. If you want to sign legislation that makes abortions difficult for the women of Virginia to obtain, just admit to it. If you think women are too stupid to understand our own options, cop to that too. But don't pick and choose who has a right to know what and when and why.
Rumor has it you seek higher political office. Know this: American women not only have the right to know, we also have the right to decide. And, unfortunately for you, we are also smarter than you know.
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