Mississippi Republicans Push to Mandate Transvaginal Ultrasounds, Renew Personhood Amendment Fight

The Mississippi House passed a bill that would require doctors to detect fetal heartbeats, which in many cases would require a transvaginal ultrasound, on women seeking an abortion and without exceptions for survivors of rape or incest. An amendment that would ban men from having vasectomies failed to pass. The group Personhood Mississippi praised the bill’s passage, and said they will begin collecting signatures to put another personhood amendment on the ballot in 2013 despite its failure last November.

The bill appears to be based on Janet Porter’s Heartbeat Bill, which passed the Ohio State House and bans all abortions after a detectable heartbeat, that has been springing up in other states including Kansas and Nebraska.

During the debate over the legislation, a Republican lawmaker responded to claims that the medically-unnecessary procedure is “state-sanctioned rape” by arguing that women “allow ourselves to be vulnerable to a pregnancy”:

The Mississippi House approved a bill that would require women seeking abortions to acknowledge when unborn children have detectable heartbeats, in some cases necessitating invasive transvaginal ultrasounds.

There is no provision in the House Bill 1196 exempting women who have been victims of rape or incest from the transvaginal ultrasound.



Rep. Rita Martinson, R-Madison, rebutted Wooten's statement, specifically addressing her description of the instrument.

"What do we think is used when an abortion is performed?" she asked. "What kind of device goes in and snatches a person from the womb, tears it out, and takes that beating heartbeat and kills it?"

While Hines and Wooten said the bill holds women responsible for an unwanted pregnancy while letting men off the hook, Martinson stressed it should be the woman's responsibility.

"Sometimes it's rape, but most of the time, it's not," she said. "We're the ones who remove our pants, are we not?

"We are the ones who allow ourselves to be vulnerable to a pregnancy," she said.