By Michael Broihier
You can devalue a word through overuse, “genius” and “hero” spring to mind. So it is with trepidation that I use a word to describe medical procedures being required by several state legislatures to deter women from seeking abortions, but there is a time to call a thing what it is, and in this case, that word is rape.
abortion to be subjected to a transvaginal ultrasound. If you don’t know what that procedure is, I’ll leave the explanation to your doctor, spouse or Google, but I cannot shy away from the fact that forcing a women to participate in it is rape.
Rape is not about sex it’s about power and has historically been the tool of domination, of men over women and nation over nation. Contemporaneous historians of ancient Greek and Roman armies clearly documented the systematic rape of the women of conquered nations and the Old Testament is rife with references to rape in war. Often misconstrued as part of a soldier’s plunder, the rape of women was far less about rewarding soldiers than signifying the absolute domination of one group by another.
You may or may not believe that abortion should be legal, but that is a moot point; it is. The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made it so, and all but the must closely circumscribed challenges to the law have been rejected by the court that has grown more socially conservative over the intervening decades. With no support from the Supreme Court, politicians pandering to those most violently opposed to abortion have switched tactics, but their motives are clear as the literature on rape is conclusive. Perpetrators want to hurt and debase their victims and show contempt through physical violence and maltreatment to compensate for feelings of inadequacy and a need for control and authority.
Don’t believe it? Watch a video of Pennsylvania Governor Tim Corbett defending his state’s new intrusive medical requirement and you will see a caricature of a floundering and powerless man trying to explain the unexplainable. Corbett’s advice to women he would compelled to undergo this procedure was to “just close their eyes.” If it wasn’t so horrifying it would have been funny.
My friends, it is difficult to write to you about this, but madness surrounding this issue is spreading. Excuses for this violent, intrusive act on women isn’t, as Rick Santorum said, “about giving women information about their bodies.” It is about manifesting a power and dominance that should no longer exist.
Let’s also hope that it is the last gasp of a dying ideology that gives men mastery over women in public life.