Let’s review. Yes, if you’re a cellphone user subscribed to one the major carriers, NSA probably collected your metadata in its ongoing effort to find out what terrorists are up to. That is, per a FISA court warrant, NSA might have a list of numbers you dialed, along with numbers that happened to have dialed you and the duration of those calls. No proper names or content of the calls are retained. If you’re not calling terrorists in Yemen or wherever, NSA doesn’t care about your metadata and likely destroyed it.
Likewise, with the cooperation of your email ISP (Google, Yahoo and others), there’s a chance NSA has done the same thing with your emails or Facebook messages. Again, they might’ve attained the “to” and “from” — the metadata. No content was collected, and the metadata was encrypted to hide your name, and unless you’re talking to terrorist targets earmarked for surveillance, your metadata was likely destroyed.
And yet, while a too-large chunk of the leftosphere continues to gather outside the White House with digital torches and Twitter-pitchforks demanding the arrest and prosecution of the president for overseeing the acquisition of infinitesimally less personal data than is collected, analysed and distributed by your credit card company or health insurance provider, the Republican Party continues to pass laws that go far beyond anything the most sinister surveillance hawks could ever come up with.
On Friday, Wisconsin’s tea party governor, Scott Walker, signed the state’s very own anti-abortion law. Among other things, which I’ll cover presently, the law will close half of all the state’s abortion clinics. Allow me to rephrase that sentence since it understated the gravity of the situation. Walker and the Republicans will close two of the state’s four abortion clinics. Almost as shocking as the closures is the fact that a relatively large state like Wisconsin only has four abortion clinics (soon to be two).
The Republicans accomplished this by making it illegal to perform an abortion unless the doctor has “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. Once again, Republicans are cleverly circumventing Roe v Wade and continuing the war on reproductive rights by simply making it more difficult to perform and receive the medical procedure — all under the backhanded notion of looking out for the safety of women.
How chivalrous of them.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s no other outpatient procedure that requires a doctor to have admitting privileges. Just abortions.
But it gets worse.
The law also makes it compulsory for women to undergo either the infamous and disgustingly invasive government-mandated transvaginal ultrasound or an external ultrasound. As most of us are aware by now, the transvaginal procedure involves inserting an ultrasound transducer into the patient’s vagina in order to examine the uterus and the fetus inside it. You know, just to be on the safe side.
Of course few Republicans will confess to the true purpose of these ultrasounds: to frighten and intimidate women until they change their minds and decide to forego the procedure. First, the whole idea of an ultrasound on top of an already invasive procedure is arguably too much for most people to bear, especially during one of the most harrowing chapter in a woman’s life. Second, Republicans are betting that once a patient sees an ultrasound of her fetus, her sympathies and maternal instincts will kick into gear (finally!) and she’ll opt out of the abortion after having bonded with the fetus. This latter aspect of government-mandated ultrasounds is grossly misogynistic: it assumes that pregnant women, irrespective of the circumstances surrounding the pregnancies, are incapable of realizing what they’re doing, or what’s growing inside of their bodies. So here comes the Republicans to mansplain it to them using a rapey wand and a live video feed.
The good news is that U.S. District Judge William Conley temporarily blocked the law on Monday, following a suit by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Another hearing is scheduled for July 17, when the law will be hashed out in more detail. For now, Conley wrote, “There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement.”
As for Walker, the governor said to reporters, “I don’t have any problem with ultrasound.” Sure, because he doesn’t have a vagina. But be careful, governor, what you “don’t have any problem with.” The Huffington Post reported:
Oklahoma Sen. Constance Johnson, also a Democrat, proposed a “spilled semen” amendment to her state’s “feel personhood” bill that would declare it an act against unborn children for men to waste sperm. Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, another Democrat, introduced an amendment to a state mandatory ultrasound bill that would require men to watch a graphic video about Viagra’s side effects before being able to receive a prescription for it. A bill filed by Virginia state Sen. Janet Howell (D), would require men to obtain a rectal exam before obtaining such a prescription.
Naturally, these bills aren’t intended to actually pass — they’d be just as wrong as the Republican ultrasounds. But who knows? One might slip through.
It’s difficult to imagine a more egregious trespass against civil liberties than these laws. One by one, Republican state legislatures have actively assaulted the extraordinarily private, wholly personal rights of women and, in the process, have legislatively sanctioned a brutally unconstitutional, punitive and medically unnecessary ultrasound to be foisted upon women without their consent. Because, you know, “we’re the government and we’re here to help.”
Comparatively, your anonymous metadata isn’t that big of a deal, now is it?