I guess the Republican Party has decided to run on a platform of sticking a speculum inside of women, but they’re not entirely secure in that desire. Every time people find out about it, they back off.

In Virginia, the trans-vaginal ultrasound bill was changed to a trans-abdominal ultrasound. The State Senate passed over a chance to vote on that bill yesterday, but may take it up today.

In Alabama, the outrage over a trans-vaginal ultrasound bill didn’t even last 24 hours before the bill sponsor agreed to changes.

State Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, today said he plans to rewrite an abortion bill he sponsored so that it could not require a woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound in which a doctor or technician inserted an ultrasound transducer, or wand, inside her [...]

Scofield in an interview said that was not his intent, and that he planned to rewrite the bill so that the woman could decide whether to have an abdominal or vaginal transducer, or wand, used on her.

”I am committed to amending this (bill) to specify that it is the woman’s choice which method of ultrasound that she would be more comfortable with,” Scofield said.

I can’t believe Clay Scofield is pro-choice. We trusted him…

With Alabama backing off, eyes turn to Pennsylvania, which could enact the “most restrictive abortion law of 2012,” according to Raw Story:

The legislation is designed with so many difficult and differing restrictions that long-time abortion policy analyst Elizabeth Nash at the Guttmacher Institute told Raw Story, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In addition to mandating the much-maligned transvaginal ultrasound requirements since rejected by the state of Virginia, Pennsylvania legislators proposed strongly encouraging women to view and listen to the ultrasounds, forcing technicians to give the women personalized copies of the results and mandating how long before any abortion the ultrasound much be preformed — and that’s just for starters [...]

Additionally, Nash points out that the length of the legislation hides bizarre and unprecedented requirements, such as asking women who gets an ultrasound more than 14 days before her abortion to view a state-approved video on fetal gestation. The bill, unlike many other ultrasound requirements, does offer exceptions for victims of rape and incest; the bill does not require victims to have reported the incidents to the authorities.

“Certainly what’s happening in Pennsylvania and throughout the country has sparked a lot of outrage,” said Andy Hoover of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. Noting that they’ve been fighting two other pieces of anti-choice legislation, one of which puts requirements on abortion providers and one of which would ban abortion coverage in state-sponsored health insurance exchanges, “It’s been the abortion wars for over a year.”

Right. Activists only hit on this trans-vaginal ultrasound provision, which serves as a symbol for the invasiveness of conservative lawmakers trying to make abortions impossible to get. But lots of the other laws around abortion which have been passed the last year, while not as visceral, are just as offensive and damaging to access to that legal medical procedure. The fact that abortion-rights groups are claiming a measure of victory in Alabama, when ultrasounds have been mandatory for abortion seekers there since 2002, is an example of this.

Since the majority of abortions in Alabama, as in other states, take place before eight weeks — when a transvaginal ultrasound is customarily used for a clearer picture — thousands of women may already have been subject to this form of state-mandated “rape” for over a decade. That legislation, the 2002 “Woman’s Right to Know” act, was challenged in court for other reasons, mostly related to the First Amendment, but eventually upheld. Forced vaginal penetration does not appear to have entered the conversation until the recent uproar in Virginia, using that language, struck a chord. The imagery and subsequent outcry, says Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, was “able to shed light on it in a way a thousand legal arguments can’t.”

Lawyers have attempted to strike down “right to know” bills that mandate the ultrasound specifically to force the woman to look at pictures of the fetus or even listen to the heartbeat, but without total success yet. And if the Supreme Court upholds it, you can expect a flood of these bills. It’s part of the chipping away of abortion rights in America. Maybe we found a red line for the public with the sticking of a speculum into a woman, but the anti-choicers continue to notch victories and move forward and make it harder for women to access a legal medical procedure.