5 July 2013
Today in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker signed SB-206, the fast-tracked Vaginal Ultrasound Bill, which never saw a minute of public hearing, into law. He did this, like he does most things, behind closed doors and out of the public eye - trying to slip this most invasive of laws into being on the Friday of a holiday weekend, when he hopes most of us will be out having too good a time to pay attention to what's being done in our name, and at our expense, at the Capitol. We're reminded of his secret declaration, on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, of "Protect Life Day." Apparently a man's decision to sign a bill into law is deeply personal and none of our affair.
This law requires healthcare professionals to perform a medically useless procedure for the sole purpose of degrading and humiliating patients into feeling guilty about obtaining an abortion, regardless of the circumstances. The law, which was immediately met with lawsuits, violates the most basic of our privacies.
All over the country, similar big-government measures to control reproductive healthcare decisions and our relationships with our doctors are on the table with our exposed bodies.
This is not ok with women.
It's not ok with doctors.
And it's a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees both the right to healthcare and the right to live free from "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
It may be time to call on healthcare professionals as well as their patients to take a stand. If those we entrust with our government continue to betray the public trust, at what point can we no longer rely on those who we entrust with our bodies to defend our right to professional, humane, impartial, medical care? When will the demand that medical professionals abandon their oaths to perform uncivil and unnecessary procedures necessitate a new demand for civil disobedience? We are headed down a strange and slippery slope, and it will be difficult to find foothold in the hypocritical moralizing at the heart of these measures.
Doctors and other medical professionals have been speaking out against the damage done to Wisconsin patients and families under Walker's austerity policies for over two years now. Ordinary people have taken to the streets and petitioned the Capitol time and again, only to be mocked, ignored, and subdued. What is the tipping point?
Wisconsin citizens may have learned that raising our voices in the streets has no impact in Fitzwalkerstan, but that doesn't mean they've gone away, or that they aren't paying attention. Together with the teachers, doctors, and scores of public and private sector employees suffering under this administration, they are watching. They are working. They will defend our rights. And we will stand together.
Note: Special thanks to MoD fan Jennifer Berns Ryan, for inspiring this image by pointing us to the World Medical Association's oath of conduct.