Virginity testing, the procedure where a doctor or other medical professional performs tests to determine whether or not a woman has had intercourse, may soon be illegal in California.
Assembly Bill 1909, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would make it illegal for licensed medical professionals to perform such an exam, and would severely penalize those who do.
Assemblywoman Gonzalez has been vehemently opposed to virginity testing exams and has said that they are harassing, invasive, and unnecessary.
“It’s time for California to listen to calls from the international community and ban this traumatizing, sexist and unnecessary practice,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez earlier this week. “So-called ‘virginity testing’ is a form of violence and harassment against young girls and women. There is no medical reason for this examination.”
“It’s a procedure where a doctor goes in and check and see if a woman’s hymen was still intact,” stated Assemblywoman Gonzalez during a later speech. “There’s something very 1890’s and a little outdated about trying to check a woman’s chastity.”
Doctor’s and other medical professionals agree with Assemblywoman Gonzalez.
“There’s no real point to them,” said gynecologist Dr. Erin Wojcinski. “T.I., the rapper, has gotten a lot of criticism lately for giving his daughter these. And it is pretty shocking to hear. But my office has gotten some demands here and there from parents, usually very religious, who wanted their daughter to get one because they thought she had premarital sex.”
“And these tests don’t show anything. The way they do it, by examining a woman’s hymen and vagina with their finger, only causes the person being examined pain. Otherwise, the things they look for, well, it’s like deciphering a lie detector test. There’s no way to tell much, it’s always inconclusive, and, sadly, the person doing the test can say the test went one way or another.”
Another doctor, family practitioner Dr. Elisabeth Fisher, told the Globe that “Virginity testing has no legitimate excuse to be done. I wouldn’t even call it medical.”
The bill has already shown support by lawmakers from both parties, with no current opposition to the bill.
The World Health Organization and many organizations under the United Nations called for a worldwide end to tests in 2018. In the United States, the only other state to propose such legislation has been New York, who will also vote on the matter this year.
AB 1909 is expected to start debate in Assembly subcommittees in the coming months.
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