I came across this on Tumblr:

Pro-Choice Protest of the Day: Taking a page from the book of Virginia Democrat Janet Howell, pro-choice Oklahoma state Senator Constance Johnson (D) introduced an amendment to the Sooner State’s pro-life “personhood” bill (SB 1433) making masturbation illegal.

Oklahoma lawmakers are currently debating legislation that would make it mandatory for women to listen to their fetus’s heartbeat before being allowed to have an abortion.

To protest the bill, Sen. Johnson sought to have an amendment added that would make “any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina…an action against an unborn child.”

Having made her point, she later voted against her own amendment.

“As a woman and a 31-year veteran of the legislative process in Oklahoma, I am increasingly offended by state law trends that solely focus on the female’s role in the reproductive process,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian’s Comment is Free. “With Oklahoma’s new, never-before-experienced Republican majority, we are seeing enactment of more and more measures that adversely affect women and their rights to access safe medical procedures when making reproductive healthcare decisions.”

Let’s review:

  1. Oklahoma is considering mandating that women considering an abortion hear the fetus’s heartbeat before deciding on the procedure.
  2. One woman responded by proposing a ban on male masturbation.
  3. Why? To hear the heartbeat would “adversely affect women” and harm a woman’s “access [to] safe medical procedures.”

Are we actually looking at a case where we’re comfortable with mandating that less information be given to women? I want to understand the idea that the heart-beat hearing scenario would harm access to abortion.

The parellel debate here concerns instances where other states are considering requiring doctors to provide a printout of an ultrasound of the fetus prior to an abortion.

We’re not even talking in this case about a 4D ultrasound, which is the most medically advanced available and actually presents a live, real time image of the fetus in the womb. We’re arguing against the idea that a pregnant woman would be provided full disclosure in the form of a computer-constructed photo of her fetus.

Oklahoma state Senator Constance Johnson is arguing that hearing a sound (and others saying that looking at a photo of your own body) represents a disastrous medical scenario. I think I grasp the root of the concern, which is something along the lines of:

To sanction (let alone mandate) a lets-stop-and-look-at-this-ultrasound-picture moment between the doctor and the patient is to create an occasion for a conversation that might not otherwise have taken place about the pregnancy.

If that represents the rough outlines of the concern from the Constance Johnson’s of the world, I get it. But I believe creating the occasion for the presentation of new information in the form of the heartbeat or the ultrasound represents contemporary medical diligence. It creates an occasion for a fuller and more distilled presentation of the developing biological reality for which a doctor was sought. It represents information.

When we download a piece of software, we’re provided with screenshots of that software before making our decision. We can hear a preview of a track before buying on iTunes. We expect this type of basic disclosure before making our choice.

Shouldn’t pregnant women?