Virginia Ultrasound Bill Passes In House

By Laura Bassett | HuffPost | 02/22/2012


WASHINGTON – “The Virginia House of Delegates passed on Wednesday a revised version of a GOP-sponsored informed consent bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before having an abortion. The new bill, which requires women to receive an external, transabdominal ultrasound rather than a more invasive transvaginal ultrasound, passed by a vote of 65-32.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) revoked his support for the original bill just minutes before the House began debate on it, saying that the government did not have the power to require the transvaginal procedure.

"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," McDonnell said in a statement. "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure."

"For this reason ... I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision," he said.

Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R) said during floor debates on the measure that McDonnell had helped GOP House members amend the bill based on the recommendations in his statement.

But Democrats said they were not satisfied with the changes, or with the fact that they were introduced right before the vote on the bill took place."

I think we need to spend time with this - we shouldn't be playing doctor on the House floor with this kind of language," said Del. David Toscano (D). "The public has an interest in this bill and has not seen it until 20 minutes ago."

Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) said the amended bill causes more problems than the original, because performing a regular ultrasound on an early pregnancy does nothing to assess the age of the fetus.

"It tries to fix an issue I've raised on this floor," she said, referring the transvaginal ultrasound mandate, "but in doing so, it not only doesn't fix it but it makes it worse. What you have done is mandated for any abortion done early in a pregnancy an ultrasound that will be utterly useless."

Members of the state legislature speculated Wednesday morning that Republicans were looking for a way to rewrite the bill to avoid having to fully back down from it, and McClellan tweeted from the House floor around 2:30 pm that "a substitute to the ultrasound bill is being circulated."

Democratic State Sen. Barbara Favola said she also heard that Republicans lawmakers may be buckling under pressure from women voters. "They're backing off because they're now hearing from women about it," she said. "Yesterday we had hundreds of women line the walkway between General Assembly and the Capitol in silent protest."

The Virginia General Assembly postponed a vote on the bill twice before taking it up on Wednesday. It has generated a firestorm of controversy because it would force doctors to perform an invasive, often medically unnecessary procedure on women without requiring their consent. Del. Charniele Herring (D) said the law was "akin to rape," and fellow Democratic Del. David Englin pointed out that "object sexual penetration is a serious sex crime in Virginia."

Jon Stewart lampooned the law on "The Daily Show" Tuesday night, prompting former Virginia Gov. and current Senate candidate Tim Kaine to scold Republicans for turning the state into a "laughingstock" and "fodder for late-night comedy shows."

"I don't want Virginia to be known as a state carrying out an extreme and even comical campaign against women and their health care choices," Kaine told reporters on Wednesday.

"Internal ultrasounds are standard medical procedure already for Planned Parenthood in an early pregnancy," said the Republican staffer, who asked that her name not be used because she is not an official spokeswoman. "Unfortunately, not all doctors follow standard procedure. So this bill is helping to prevent against malpractice or a mother being rushed to the hospital with an ectopic pregnancy because the doctor didn't do any imaging before the abortion."

The staffer said Byron was aware of all the medical implications of the bill, including the fact that the procedure would be physically invasive, before she sponsored it.
Favola said that in order to diffuse the controversy, some Republicans have suggested amending the bill's language to state that doctors may perform an ultrasound on a woman if the procedure is deemed medically necessary. "It's absolutely silly," she said. "What are they doing? Do they just want to show they have power over women's bodies? If an ultrasound is medically needed, the doctor is already doing it. This is the most demeaning piece of legislation you could come up with."

This most recent attempt to control women’s bodies, legalize forced ultrasounds without permission and forcing her to hear the fetal heartbeat before she has the abortion is cruel, unConstitutional, and are all draconian methods of restricting women’s rights over her own body and attempting to change the woman’s mind about abortion is a distinct invasion of privacy..

It has a Hitleresque quality to it that is purely disgusting and more than sick. If the government can make these grotesque rules into law without even having a medical license, what else won’t they do in the future concerning women?

When untrained far right evangelical morons are voted into office and try to usurp the Constitution to satisfy their sick, destructive beliefs in passing unConstitutional laws there is something horribly wrong with the Democracy we all believe in.

For years the anti-abortion maniacs have been chipping away at the rights of women by whatever means they can, in order to outlaw abortion, but where are they when our troops were dying daily from 2001 thru 2010? Where was their great devotion for life then? What about the senior citizens that cannot afford medicines that would save their lives, but are left to die, “because it is not the government’s place to give them medicine” Where, exactly, IS their devotion to ‘life’ in those circumstances? And how do they get to pick and choose?