Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) offered up some advice for women who don’t want to have a mandatory ultrasound before they terminate their pregnancy: Don’t look at it. Now Democrats are pouncing, holding up the line as evidence of the GOP’s continuing insensitivity toward women.
The quote in question came after Corbett was asked at a press conference whether “making [women] watch” an ultrasound went “too far.”
“I don’t know how you make anybody watch,” Corbett said. “You just have to close your eyes.”
Bills in other states requiring exterior ultrasounds and more invasive procedures, most notably a failed effort to mandate transvaginal probes in Virginia, have become a huge flashpoint between anti-abortion and abortion-rights groups. Democrats immediately accused Corbett of dismissing women’s concerns with his offhand remark.
“If you’re a woman who opposes mandatory ultrasounds, Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has a suggestion for you: ‘You just have to close your eyes,’” read an e-mail petition circulated by the Democratic Governors Association on Thursday. “‘Close your eyes?’ Does Governor Corbett have no shame?”
A Quinnipiac poll this week showed Pennsylvanians opposed to the ultrasound requirement by a 48 percent to 42 percent margin, but also contained a counterintuitive “reverse gender gap.” Men opposed the measure, 51 percent to 39 percent, while women actually were split evenly 45 percent to 45 percent. All groups were overwhelmingly opposed, 64 percent to 23 percent, to the transvaginal ultrasound requirement floated in Virginia, which Corbett has said he opposed.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.