Commentary: The 'uterus rebellion'

Pro-choice advocates are right to point out the irony of the “uterus rebellion,’’ the flippant name for the flap over the ban of the word uterus in the Florida House. With 18 anti-abortion bills introduced in the Legislature, it’s offensive that lawmakers feel uncomfortable saying the word uterus but have no qualms about legislating it.

Rep. Scott Randolph started the controversy when he commented during a floor debate that his wife ought to incorporate her uterus. If women’s wombs were business, the Orlando Democrat suggested, Republicans would have no interest in regulating them.

House Speaker Dean Cannon was so bothered by Mr. Randolph’s utterance that he put out the word: no more uterus talk. But here’s an even better option sure to put a stop to the u-word: no more legislative attacks on women’s reproductive rights and health.

Florida Republicans, emboldened by their sweep of both chambers in November, are moving forward with a host of anti-choice bills that would make it harder for women to get abortions. The party that rails against government interference — when it’s convenient — knows whatever they pass will be signed by Gov. Rick Scott, who did not campaign on the issue but stands with his conservative brethren.

The proposed legislation includes a fast-tracked measure virtually identical to one that Mr. Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, rightly vetoed last year. It would require pregnant women to view and listen to a description of a live ultrasound picture of their fetus before an abortion. Advocates say this is just a matter of being sure a woman has all the relevant information. It is in fact done in hopes of dissuading women from terminating their pregnancies.

No matter how lawmakers try, it is impossible to justify imposing their religious politics onto such a private matter.

Doctors and their patients are the only ones in a position to know whether an ultrasound is medically necessary; legislators are not entitled or qualified to weigh in. Women seeking an abortion already face a variety of traumatic decisions. Forcing them to watch an ultrasound and listen to a description of their fetus is cruel and unnecessarily intrusive.

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