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Florida Legislators’ Creepy Uterus Obsession

| April 1, 2011

Georgia O'Keeffe, 'Blue Flower' (1918) florida abortion ultrasounds law fetus women gender

Georgia O'Keeffe, 'Blue Flower' (1918)

FlaglerLive Editor Pierre Tristam’s weekly commentaries are broadcast on WNZF on Fridays just after 9 a.m. Here’s this week’s.

Republicans at the Legislature are upset that one of their colleagues used the word uterus on the floor of the Florida House this week. Lawmakers were talking about deregulation. Scott Randolph, an Orlando Democrat, joked that if his wife’s uterus were incorporated, maybe his colleagues would be talking about deregulating it, instead of getting in its way in the form of more regulations. Like additional abortion restrictions. The Speaker of the House was so upset that he sent his PR flack to complain about “language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests.” But how is the mention of the word uterus any more inappropriate than the mention of lungs or kidneys or livers, particularly with children or young floor pages, all of whom have spent more time in the comfort of a uterus than on the duplicitous carpets of the Legislature?

There are many offenses being committed on the Legislature’s floor these days. Uttering the word uterus is not one of them. What Republicans are doing to women’s uteruses is, and that was just Randolph’s point. Here’s one example.

Current law requires that any clinic providing abortion services in the second trimester conduct an ultrasound first. It’s one of those patronizing impositions that presume that women need to be lectured about what they already know by clinicians who know absolutely nothing about them. The really offensive assumption is that women must be forced to see the fetus they want to abort if they’re to make an informed decision. GOP lawmakers have been trying for years to extend the ultrasound requirement to the first trimester. This year they may succeed. The requirement would immediately cut down on the number of abortion clinics, because some of them can’t afford extremely expensive ultrasound machines. It would also force some women to possibly forego clinical abortions, because the women themselves would have to pay not only for their abortion, but for the ultrasound, too.

The proposal  is back-alley trickery, a way to stick it to women and their health while pretending to be looking out for morals. And that’s the least of the insult.

In 2008, there were 95,000 abortions in Florida, and 231,000 live births. Some of those pregnancies—if I may be allowed to use the word pregnancy—were terminated by choice, some by medical necessity, and some by moral necessity, if for example the pregnancy was the result of incest or rape. What’s beyond dispute is that for most of these women, getting an abortion was not a casual choice. Getting pregnant may have been a casual act, even a careless act. But that’s nobody’s business, particularly since half the people involved in those acts either dropped out of the picture before sunup or stand there as men tend to with these things, either clueless or looking to mess with something that isn’t theirs to mess with. Women, meanwhile, must endure. If the experience of women who go through with abortions is any guide, the stupidity around them pales in comparison with their own grief and second-guessing and pain, all of which endures long after the abortion.

There may be a difference between forcing a woman to wear a burqa supposedly to protect her virtue and forcing a woman to stare at an ultrasound supposedly to inform her about her choice. If there is, it’s not much of one, both burdens being the result male-centered assumptions about what’s best for women.

It would be nice if there were ultrasounds for anguish, and men were forced to see what they’re putting women through that way. I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that forcing a woman to stare at an ultrasound of her own innards is a form of rape, though some women do. But it is a form of violation, not just of the woman’s privacy, but of her dignity. None of those requirements are imposed on the father, of course. Fathers, as always, are elsewhere. They have that luxury. The floor of the Florida Legislature appears to be one of their favorite retreats from the real world. Take an ultrasound of that place and you’ll see that if life begins at conception for some, empathy and compassion never do, even well into adulthood.

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17 Responses for “Florida Legislators’ Creepy Uterus Obsession”

  1. Jenn Carleton says:

    Yep they should! I am a Pro Lifer! It is a baby! It has a heartbeat. What if we could choose to abort our parents. Keep your pants on and you won’t have to choose to be a murderer! A baby is a baby no matter what age in utero or out of the womb. This is a very touchy subject with me! ♥

  2. Margaret Federle Carter says:

    this is one of the stupidest things

  3. Maureen Vidal says:

    Funny how that goes with them screaming less government unless it concerns womens reproductive rights. We need a woman to enact a new law making it mandatory for any mans name to appear in a public notice every time they go on their miracle 4 hour kickstand medicine so women can be informed.

  4. lawabidingcitizen says:

    That abortion is being used as birth control is a fact. Doncha know it’s so much easier than bothering with pills and other messy appliances. The fact that half of the cause for the pregnancy got out of Dodge before sun up changes nothing.

    Abortion kills a living human being. We women are the ones who get pregnant. Can’t change that, so it’s up to us to make sure that if we don’t want to conceive, we don’t put our womb in the way of a “brief encounter” with an errant sperm.

    Wake up ladies and start taking responsibility for yourselves.

    The Democratic legislator quoted in the article is a reprehensible fool discussing his wife’s uterus.

  5. floridaj says:

    Of course we want less governemtn, so stop meddling in a WOMEN’s RIGHTS!!!! What Century are we living in here???? Let Women decide what they need to do for their own bodies. It is a hard enough decision to make, and to have BIG BROTHER, trying to make them feel worse about their decision. WRONG Shame on them for even thinking about such a thing.

  6. Tina Jeffe says:

    Good for Scott Randolph!! If there were only more empathetic males in the world maybe this discussion wouldn’t have to go on.

  7. Why am I not surprised… I think if we are going to revisit the Middle Ages, we should just bite the bullet and go all the way. Chastity belts for the ladies and whatever it is they did for the boys (hoping it wasn’t always castration). This would blend in rather nicely with abstinence only education and whatever else this fabulous state is would like to impose on people who happen to live here.

    Of course on a serious note, outside of the humiliation such a procedure is designed to evoke, the financial burden will only be felt by women who can ill afford any health care for themselves already. Would they maybe make it mandatory for the other half of the transaction to foot that bill?

    Interesting that the word “uterus” is at the center of any controversy for those ‘delivered by storks, no doubt’ assholes who still think with their dicks.

  8. Will says:

    Georgia O’Keefe’s beautiful “Blue Flower” at the head of this article is so calming and evocative. Maybe the remaining lovers and supporters of art in public spaces could organize an O’Keefe exhibit in chambers near the legislature where Members could go and ponder tranquility and grace. Maybe a little reflection might let them think more clearly.

  9. William says:

    Women being dictated to regarding their Uterus (there, I said it) by people who don’t have one. How typical of the psychotic patriarchal mindset of the conservative. I would like to express my utter and total contempt for these duplicitous assholes, but words fail me. Worse, they are abetted by women who would like to return to the dark ages right along with them, spitting in the faces of the women who have valiantly fought for women’s rights.

    Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant, right? Might as well go back to the days of back-alley, coat hanger remedies. Who cares if a few of those breeders die, so long as we can trumpet our superior morality from the shining city atop the hill. Just don’t look too closely at their own veiled lives carefully hidden from view by multiple layers of curtains. As with this information, it’s all about CONTROL. Total, absolute, complete, stifling control.

    I piss on the lie that is conservative morality.

  10. Liana G says:

    CONCORD, N.H. — The Republican leader of the New Hampshire House on Friday called Roman Catholic Bishop a “pedophile pimp”

    Wonder who he’s pimping for. . . Have to keep the supply pool always well stocked . . .even the young
    floor pages grow up.

    I guess we also need to keep the supply pool well stocked for fighting the rich men’s wars too.

    “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, included research showing that the majority of women who are FORCED into unwanted pregnancy make terrible mothers for various reasons including resentment, lack of maternal interest, and the financial hardships and responsibilities of taking care of the child/children.

    Research also showed that in low income neighborhoods where pregnancies were low because of access to birth control and prevention, less crimes were committed due to a reduction in a population fighting for survival by whatever means necessary.

    Our prison population and gang memberships statistics confirm what happens to children born to mothers unable to take on this responsibility.

    If these idiots keep this up I wouldn’t be surprise if there is a spike in our gay population based solely on choice.

    *This whole prolife and prodeath penality stance is another issue that boggles my mind.

    IT = child

    Which is more cruel – preventing IT from having to live a life of proverty and hardships by not bringing IT into the world, or ruthlessly killing IT later if, heaven forbid, IT kills someone over a loaf of bread /survival while struggling to survive a life of proverty and hardships IT had constantly endured until IT got desperate and committed the unforgivable in our hypocritical society.

    Thank god I’m not religous! I couldn’t live with myself!

  11. William says:


    This is exactly the sort of hypocrisy I’ve been railing against. These bastards will fight tooth and nail for the rights of the unborn. Once they’re out of the womb, however, it’s “you’re on your own kid.” At this point we hear the “welfare saga” and how unfair it is for their tax dollars to be used for any form of “socialist” safety net without noting the irony. Shorter version – I’ve got mine, tough shit for you kid.

    Family values my ass.

  12. PC MAN says:

    HAH ! I completely missed the Georgia O’Keeffe tie in, thanks Will. Oh and republicans are assholes and it’s a waste of time arguing with them.

  13. Liana G says:

    Thanks William: Throughout history and throughout the world, women needed/need men like yourself to speak up in support of us.

    Women get blame for being greedy, money gabbing materlistic . . . . human beings, but what many fail to realize is that unlike men, many women sacrifice personal feelings (love, respect, happiness) just so that the children they bring into this world can have the oportunity to have a safe, happy, comfortable, and successful life. Is that so terribly wrong? Especially when we love our sons equally as much as we love our daughters. And given the challenges and suffering and risks we women face/endure, aren’t we all better off with sons only ?

  14. Will says:

    You’re welcome PC MAN.

    I’m surprised Inna didn’t comment on O’Keefe either. She was my inspiration.

    I wonder how many sitting “R” legislators would even get it. :(

  15. Will – my apologies… That’s what I get for commenting in a hurry, and not feeling either grace or tranquility while I am at it. As to your other question, not a one:-(

  16. rickg says:

    I have a couple of questions for all those who proclaim to be “Pro Lifers”… Do you also oppose the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya since our bombs are also blowing pregnant women into a red mist? And do you support the Tea baggers who would like to eliminate all care for those infants who are in need of health care and education? If you do then I would say that you are sincere. If not you are a hypocrite.

  17. MoxiiCake says:

    If there’s no heartbeat, it’s not alive:)

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