Transvaginal Ultrasound and KY HB2

HB2 as passed by the 2017 Kentucky Legislature is disconcerting on its own regarding reproductive rights and the rights of women in the Commonwealth, but let’s look just a bit deeper (no pun intended – you’ll understand in a moment) at the most concerning detail of the bill.

HB2 as passed in the 2016 legislature required that a woman seeking pregnancy termination in the Commonwealth undergo the information step of informed consent 24 hours prior to the procedure. HB2 as just cleared the house yesterday requires that the woman also undergo an ultrasound immediately prior to the procedure. The patient does not have to look at the monitor, but the practitioner must describe the image to the patient. You’re thinking, “What’s the big deal? Some jelly on the belly and a piece of foam-padded plastic being rubbed over the abdomen?” You’d be wrong.

The law plainly states that this ultrasound must be transvaginal. Transvaginal ultrasound is a type of pelvic ultrasound used by doctors to examine female reproductive organs. This includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and vagina. “Transvaginal” means “through the vagina.” This is an internal examination.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Um. Ok. Still don’t see the big deal here.” I mean, after all, this woman has already entered the clinic to have a pregnancy terminated so obviously she knows there is going to be some equipment snaking up in her goods. Right?

And… In some ways I agree with you. But, in some ways I am LIVID.

Not very female who undergoes the procedure is a full-grown woman. Not even every full-grown woman is there as an outcome of her own decision making. So, let it sit with you a moment that our legislators just mandated that rape and incest victims, regardless of age, undergo having a large, phallic wand inserted into their vagina to attain ultrasound images that could have been attained externally with traditional ultrasound methods.

Are you OK with that? I’m not.