Thursday, February 23, 2012

Media Moment - Transvaginal Ultrasound

As some of you may have heard Virginia was on the verge of changing their state law to require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound.  This was not however the ultrasound you're probably thinking of with the jelly and weird electric shaver being passed across your abdomen.  This was transvaginal, which means these women would be penetrated by a doctor with the apparatus above.  This is a link to a much more graphic and NSFW picture.  An important note in this disturbing story is that women seeking an abortion, because they were raped, would be forced to endure this procedure as well, essentially forcing them to endure another rape.  Now the Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell (R), and ardent pro-life advocate and possible GOP Vice-President nominee, has finally decided he needs to review this bill in more depth after learning how invasive this required procedure would be, and how it might actually be grounds for doctors to be charged with sexual assault.

Obviously this topic is guaranteed to cause a stir as abortion is a very divisive topic in this country, however it relates to women and the media for a different reason.  When you Google "Virginia Transvaginal Ultrasound"  there are no major news network links above the fold of results.  The first major news outlet is the Huffington Post, followed much further down by USA Today.  When you go to the actual homepage of USA Today there is absolutely no mention of this issue whatsoever.  Yet Gov. McDonnell's reversal of his position to endorse this bill is only a mere day old.  If you then click the tab to bring you to the "News" section, again you will not find a link or reference to this issue.  Only when you narrow the search again to "Nation News" do you find a link, and even then it is again below the fold of the page.  This screenshot shows the top stories being pushed today.  The reason I am using USA Today as a specific example is because it is the most widely circulated US publication in the world, not necessarily because it is the source of the most impartial news.
Obviously my initial thoughts on this were not only are women rights being steamrolled again but news outlets are barely covering this issue at all.  A women is likely to be forcibly raped by a doctor to rid herself of a pregnancy caused by a rape and the nation is relatively silent.  Why are women's rights still be overlooked in this country?  Why are we apparently more interested in John Edwards sex tape suit than we are in the possibility of state passing a law so archaic and invasive than it borders on criminal?  Why am I not seeing OWS-sized protests about this?  Is it because the media makes it a point to not focus heavily on women rights issues or is it because the news room is still a boys club, and if it doesn't concern men then it's not that big of a deal?  I would love to hear what some of you think.  Oh, and the kicker to this entire story is that this bill was introduced by a women, Kathy Byron.  That last fact made my brain implode.

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