Political Animal


February 24, 2013 11:08 AM Transvaginal probes … they’re baaaack

By Kathleen Geier

Evidence continues to mount that, despite the humiliating defeat suffered by Mitt Romney and the Republicans last November, and despite the fact that the demographics of America are continue to change in way that increasingly favor Democrats, the Republicans have learned nothing from their defeat.

The latest evidence to this effect: Talking Points Memo is reporting that Indiana Republicans are supporting legislation that would bring back our old friend, the transvaginal probe. As you may recall, last year states including Alabama and Virginia considered similar laws, which would require painful, humiliating, and completely unnecessary poking about in the private parts of women seeking abortions.

Those earlier attempts at enacting transvaginal probe laws generated a fierce backlash that stopped those bills dead in their tracks. If that happened in a state as deeply conservative Alabama, I’m baffled that Republicans think they can get away with this stunt in a state as purple as Indiana.

In addition, you’d think that Republicans in Indiana, of all places, would grasp how badly these kinds of “war on women” tactics have backfired. Last year, Republican Richard Mourdock, looked like a shoo-in for the state’s U.S. senate seat … until he made an infamous remark about pregnancy during rape being part of God’s plan, and then it was all over.

Normally, when a political party suffers a series of bruising electoral defeats, it steps back, re-evaluates, and tries to appeal to a broader slice of the electorate by moderating its stances and offering some new ideas. I see zero evidence that the Republicans are serious about doing this. Even when it comes to immigration, which is the one issue where many Republicans were supposedly ready to come to the center, there are clear signs that the party’s leading lights are completely intransigent.

I suppose this is the price Republicans pay for crafting a political strategy tha is so heavily dependent on a shrinking base consisting of groups (old people, white evangelicals) that tend to be fiercely resistant to change.

Oh well, if the G.O.P. can’t win elections fair and square any more, I suppose there’s always cheating.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • c u n d gulag on February 24, 2013 12:03 PM:

    If I were a woman living in IN, I'd tell them, "I'll be ok with your trans-vaginal probe, but only after every man in the state has a trans-penile probe to prove that they're NOT the father of this fetus. State Legistlators first! Deal?"

    Or, how about legistlation proposed by a female IN politician, which would require men get an anal probe to see if their tonsils are swelling?

    But, maybe they'd like that.

  • Ron Byers on February 24, 2013 12:11 PM:

    You have to understand evangelicals don't give a rats backside about the political impact transvaginal probes nor do they care one whit about the rights of women or human rights in general for that matter. They could care less about the cost of their proposals to the people involved. The legislation doesn't affect them (until it does but that is when they drop out of the evangelical movement.) They are told by their male preachers that they are on a mission from God. That is all the care about.

    As to Republican politicians, when you ride the tiger it is best that you not fall off.

  • navigator on February 24, 2013 12:16 PM:

    The modern GOP has internalized the panic of being on the losing side of the country's demographic shift. The GOP congressperson elected in the last few cycles sees this as war, not political disagreement. They care more about moving the ball down the field as far as possible more than being re-elected. To their credit, they are much more effective in doing so wherever they gain solid majorities.

  • schtick on February 24, 2013 12:24 PM:

    The whole problem with those white greedy old men is that they never change. They are stuck in the 1800's and will always stay there. The only thing they ever change is their selling points and now it's out and out lies for everything.

    Put women where they belong, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, the gays back in the closet, christian religion in politics, and recognize that the teapubs are the party of morals even though they do everything they say to others not to do.

  • jjm on February 24, 2013 12:27 PM:

    Republicans may all be secretly reading Sade's 120 Days of Sodom and getting excited at the prospect of rape-by-proxy with an instrument. (Sade abhorred heterosexual relations, and especially female body parts.)

  • somethingblue on February 24, 2013 12:32 PM:

    I think it's a stretch to call Indiana a purple state. It went for Obama in 2008, by the narrowest of margins, but I don't expect it to break Democratic again any time soon. Romney won it by more than 10%.

  • PTate in MN on February 24, 2013 1:16 PM:

    In the classic study of cognitive dissonance, Leon Festinger infiltrated a cult that was predicting the end of the world, wondering how they would react when their prediction failed. Their reaction is consistent with the Republican response to bruising electoral defeats. The cult members doubled down, becoming even more fervent believers. The failure of the prediction was used as evidence that they were right all along; they became more deeply convinced. The key factors seemed to be the degree of their commitment and the fact that they were a social group and could talk among themselves.

    In other words, the Republicans are becoming more fervent because they are so deeply committed to their crazy and can live in bubbles. I think the only remaining questions are how long their funding will last and how much damage they will inflict on the rest of us before the last of them finally dies off.

    So the idea of legislating transvaginal probes to discourage abortions is probably one of those whack-a-mole conservative ideas that will keep popping up.

    Heh, Captcha: basesser worse

  • Rick B on February 24, 2013 1:28 PM:

    "Normally, when a political party suffers a series of bruising electoral defeats, it steps back, re-evaluates, and tries to appeal to a broader slice of the electorate by moderating its stances and offering some new ideas. "

    That's what happens when a political party that is trying to govern a society and nation it belongs to and runs into objections to its efforts to change what government does. This Republican Party does not accept modern America. It is in electoral politics to rip up modern America and replace it with something they find more acceptable. This is the conservatives attempting to stand athwart history, yelling Stop as they were instructed by Bill Buckley and the Goldwater/Reagan crowd who followed him.

    California hit this kind of reactionaryism with its high point in the 1990's when Pete Wilson tried to make being a Mexican moving to California illegal and got handed his head. But the conservatives have built government protections for their cause with things like the California 2/3rds majority vote to raise taxes. Jerry Brown has finally defeated that (and now needs to remove it.)

    These conservatives cannot be reasoned with. They are losing power and will not give it up quietly. They will have to be removed like weeds from a garden, one at a time, state-by-state. It will not happen without a formal "weed removal program" conducted nationwide.

    As a side note, the highly ambitious Ted Cruz has just entered the national political arena and he is looking for an exploitable niche where he can make a splash. Look for him to step into this issue or something similar to try to ride it into power. He is a despicable immoral prick who needs to be slapped down. The conservatives attract his kind.

  • mmm on February 24, 2013 1:55 PM:

    Just out of curiosity, do we know if physicians actually comply with this legislation, or ignore it? With medical records like they are, how would we know? In a State where there aren't these rules, has any doctor ever indicated that they would not comply? What is the feeling in the medical community?

  • Crissa on February 24, 2013 3:08 PM:

    I don't even understand why requiring additional medical procedures which are of no medical value, which are invasive and expensive, is even legal. Don't laws have to pass some basic tenet of having value to the community vs invading people's rights?

  • just someone anonymous on February 24, 2013 4:54 PM:

    Having personally experienced a trans-vaginal probe in the state of Pennsyltucky, I can state without fear that it is intrusive, weird, it lasts a long time, it is intensive, pretty much overwhelming, and it upsets me that Corbett in Penna. said that the woman could just look away.

  • schtick on February 24, 2013 5:34 PM:

    mmm and Crissa,

    According to the teapubs, it's not invasive because women like to have all kinds of things shoved up their vagina and the fact that they can't be raped because they like it is proof.

    I can't wait for women to take over government so men MUST have a rectal/proctology exam for their celias and viagra.

  • j.s.a on February 24, 2013 6:59 PM:

    right on schtick

  • paul on February 25, 2013 12:18 PM:

    So what's the status of the "speech and debate" exception for state legislators? Because on the surface of it this sure looks like conspiracy to commit sexual assault. (If the US were an occupied territory, it would also likely rise to the level of a war crime.)

  • Kevin (not the famous one) on February 25, 2013 4:00 PM:

    Wait; isn't Karl Rove trying to stop crazy people from winning major Republican primaries in 2014. I thought he was Republi...oh, I get it now, this is how they get the job done. Keep banging that drum KKKarl.