There’s a women’s rights nightmare unfolding right in front of our eyes

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s about-face on his support of the Hyde Amendment took the abortion conversation away from the focus on what Republican-led state governments are doing to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. When a major party’s frontrunner abruptly switches positions on an important issue, the press should certainly cover it. But the mainstream media has largely ignored a highly disturbing development in Missouri that imperils women’s rights and thrusts doctors into an unnerving ethical dilemma.

Over the last two nights, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s presented a chilling two-part exclusive report about what Missouri is trying to do to its last remaining abortion provider, St. Louis Planned Parenthood, while awaiting a judge’s decision as to its continued existence. Missouri has already required women to undergo a three-day medically unnecessary waiting period following their meeting with a doctor. This measure’s purpose is to make it difficult for women to pursue an abortion because of the added burden of more time off from work, additional childcare arrangements and greater hotel expenses.

Just as Hulu was readying the release of a new season of A Handmaid’s Tale, Missouri added another executive measure that seems straight out of Gilead. As of May 31, every woman who seeks a legal abortion in Missouri is required to undress and endure a medically unnecessary, invasive vaginal examination before the start of the pointless three-day waiting period. Doctors must perform this exam even if they are planning one a few days later, before the abortion. Maddow notes that Missouri’s goal appears to be to dissuade doctors from providing abortions altogether, calling this measure the “new cost of staying open.”

The clinic is holding its ground, continuing to perform abortions while striving to spread word of this horrific new measure. Dr. Colleen McNicholas of the clinic described the requirement as a “state-sanctioned, essentially, sexual assault.” Dr. Amy Addante tweeted on Monday: “Today I was forced by the state of Missouri to perform an unnecessary pelvic exam on a patient terminating her pregnancy for a fetal anomaly. She is heartbroken over her situation and I was forced to do an invasive, uncomfortable exam. It broke me as a physician to do this to her.” According to Director of Surgical Services Kawanna Shannon, the women are “pretty remarkable because they’re actually apologizing to my doctors. They’re saying I’m sorry you have to do this to me. And that’s shameful.”

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 944 adults across the United States reveals that 57% of respondents consider themselves to be pro-choice. In addition, only 13% of all respondents – and, perhaps more significantly, only 34% of respondents who call themselves pro-life – believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Missouri’s latest measure is a disgusting new low that does not reflect what Americans want. Subjecting women to trauma and humiliation for political reasons does not make America great again.

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