Virginia scraps ultrasound bill

It engendered a lot of controversy – and late yesterday it failed after the governor changed is mind and decided not to support it.


A Virginia bill that would have required women to undergo an invasive ultrasound before having an abortion failed Wednesday after Gov. Bob McDonnell withdrew his support.

McDonnell, a Republican who opposes abortion and is mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, came out against the measure in the face of anger among some women and ridicule by late-night comedians.

Requiring women to have an ultrasound in which a wand is inserted into the vagina “is not a proper role for the state,” McDonnell said. “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.”

McDonnell asked the General Assembly to amend the legislation to “address various medical and legal issues which have arisen” and “to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily.”

The House of Delegates passed a substitute bill late Wednesday requiring doctors to perform the more routine external “jelly on the belly” ultrasound to determine the stage of the pregnancy before performing an abortion.

Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, a Republican who sponsored the original bill, decided to withdraw the Senate version of the bill, effectively killing it, when it became clear that the governor’s position had shifted, legislative assistant Tricia Stiles said.

Vogel’s bill, requiring the invasive procedure, had provoked both outrage and scorn.

Sen. Janet Howell, a Democrat, called it a “serious infringement of women’s rights.”

She offered an amendment to require doctors to perform a rectal exam and cardiac stress test on men seeking medication for erectile dysfunction. That measure failed.

Vogel’s bill was lampooned on Saturday Night Live, and comedian Jon Stewart devoted a five-minute segment to it on The Daily Show.

Invoking President Reagan’s statement that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” Stewart quipped: “I got nine scarier words for you: I’m from the government, and this wand’s a little cold.”

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  1. Good good good. Those of us who see abortion as the taking of a human life would not change the hearts of those who see it merely as a medical procedure by imposing such an intrusive mandate. Having the government force pregnant women to have vaginal ultrasounds is coercive and paternalistic and not the way to cultivate a culture that respects life from conception to natural death.

  2. I’m certainly pro-life, but I do think this procedure was an intrusion. We have to change the pro abortion law, and of course, the hearts of those that support it, but forcing someone to undergo an exam against their will is against the principles of liberty.

  3. A good-hearted and well-intentioned attempt at saving women from the deceptions of abortionists, however it was seriously misguided–as I think similar measures in other states are.

    One of the core concerns that has given rise to these laws is the lying done in abortion clinics relative to the baby’s degree of development. The anecdotal reports of hundreds of post-abortive women tell us of abortionists who say that the baby is, “just a blob of tissue,” or, “Just a clump of cells,” at 4, 8, 12 weeks of development.

    Here is a video library of actual embryoscopy videos showing the stages of development all the way through pregnancy. It is such imagery that has given rise to ultrasound laws:

    One of the problems with such well-intentioned laws is that there is no way to ascertain whether the abortionist will actually show the mother identifiable features such as the face, arms, legs, etc. An abortionist who would lie without a sonogram will simply misrepresent what’s on the sonogram.

    There are ways of ferreting out liars, such as sting operations with investigators posing as abortion-minded women. Legislation calling for automatic loss of medical license for such behavior is more practical and less invasive. A mandated trans-vaginal ultrasound was unconscionable. Properly chastened, the pro-life legislators of Virginia need to pass laws that have mechanisms built in to assure that those laws will actually achieve the ends for which they were enacted.

    Passing ultrasound laws that rely on dishonest abortionists to honestly interpret the images for the mother is silly and naive, on a good day.

  4. It is interesting that changing this leaves the question in place as to how to inusure that the laws can be met to accurately determine the exact age of the baby. It is still another step on the road to saving lives. The states are working to do this and in the process, an education process is taking place as well where more are learning each day about the lie of this being a blog of tissue. If only those in Germany had worked hard to put the lie that Jews were not equal, not human, maybe lives could have been saved. If only we had undertaken to educated that black slaves were people like us, maybe the civil war could have been avoided.

    The forces of evil will always come up with arguments to support their killing. Some will consider winning by calling this rape a victory. However, for many, it showed their strong committment to the legal death of those they consider once again, not quite human because of age and location. In politics, you push the envolope and need to take what victory you can against evil. this was a victory for the infants because now the debate goes on about viability of the human being and we will see ever more images of the baby exposing the lie.

  5. Rambling Follower said it very neatly: positve persuasion is essential. If it is our
    belief then we should urge, persuade, convince and demonstrate respect for all individuals. The conflicted pregnant woman isn’t to be invaded but to have supports as she chooses to move forward and keep the child alive. I urge support of government actions that support the medical needs of all. A government should assure all of food, housing and clothing. Perhaps at that point a child would be celebrated rather than be viewed as a burden.

  6. The American people, for all our shortcomings, still have a baseline sense of decency and freedom. They saw this bill for what it was: A government mandated rape under the guise of medical care to intimidate women from an act that could not be overtly outlawed. It was evil and Orwellian, and could not be justified even by citing a “higher good.”

  7. pagansister says:

    Well put, Kenneth.
    As much as I’d rather have a woman change her mind and not go through with a termination, the proposed procedure was totally uncalled for and a really poor idea from the Republican Senator Vogel. As a woman why would she even consider the idea of the invasive procedure? Glad it was shot down. Also, would it have actually made any woman change her mind? IMO, no.

  8. Not only won’t tactics like these make people change their mind, they will (and do) actually scare many middle of the road or undecided people into the Planned Parenthood camp.
    The pro-choice camp draws a fair number of its followers from people who have mixed feelings about abortion and even many who would not choose that for themselves and who would try to talk friends and family out of it. They become pro-choice because they sense the other side has some really creepy tactics and a truly totalitarian agenda that would place every aspect of reproductive health and decision under state control. They don’t like to talk about it, but they mean to outlaw virtually all forms of contraception.
    Bills like this also gut the credibility of religious groups who are fighting to end Obama’s mandate on birth control insurance coverage. They’re saying on the one hand “making us pay for contraception coverage is a gross abuse of government power. But we can have the government violate your bodies whenever we think there is a good enough reason.”

  9. Like most here, I’m pro-life; I want to see fewer and fewer abortions performed. (None would be great, too.) But what Virginia was looking to impose was invasive enough to border on legislated rape. I’ve been hoping to hear the bishops’ conference (or even individual bishops) come out and condemn this proposed, required invasive procedure — which some would equate with a human rights violation.

    Anyone know if any of the bishops have spoken out to condemn this proposal before the GOP in Virginia walked it back?

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