Governor McDonnell: Changes must be made to Virginia ultrasound abortion bill

Posted at 11:46 PM, Feb 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-23 15:14:18-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell would like to see changes to an abortion bill, SB 484, making its way through the Virginia General Assembly. [READ BILL]

The bill would require women to undergo an ultrasound, to establish gestational age, prior to having an abortion. Opponents to this bill have argued the requirement would force woman to undergo an internal ultrasound. While the bill does not specify an internal ultrasound be performed, the procedure is often the only option in the early stages of pregnancy to determine the age of the fetus.

Minutes before a vote in the House Wednesday, Governor McDonnell retracted his support for the bill and, addressing mounting criticism, asked the bill be amended before passage in the General Assembly.

“It is clear that in the majority of cases, a routine external, transabdominal ultrasound is sufficient to meet the bills stated purpose, that is, to determine gestational age,” the Governor wrote. “I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done. Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.”

The Governor said he’s requesting the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that “no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily.”

Several abortion-related bills up for vote in the General Assembly have been the target of protests by those who felt the bills violated a woman’s right to make private medical decisions without intervention from the government. [Read More]

Anna Scholl, with ProgressVA, issued the following statement on the governor’s proposed amendments.

“While it is heartening to see lawmakers begin to take Virginians’ voices seriously, the only acceptable course of action on HB 462 and SB 484 is a veto,” she wrote. “Instead of wasting more time amending these bills to try to make their constituents a little less angry, lawmakers should kill these bills and get back to work on Virginians’ priorities.”

During an interview last month, the bill’s patron Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R – Winchester) told CBS 6 while her bill required a woman undergo the ultrasound procedure, it gave the woman the option of reviewing the ultrasound images.

“It’s one thing to have information available, but if you have technology there and it’s part of your clinical visit, it would seem that you would want to have the opportunity- or at least the right- to have the information about the ultrasound,” said Vogel in a January 25 interview with CBS 6 anchor Sam Brock.[Click here to view that story]

Another piece of controversial legislation, one that would define life at conception, heads to a Senate committee today.

State Senator Steve Martin tells us the personhood bill will likely be heard in his committee Thursday. Sen. Martin is the chairman of the Senate Health and Education committee.

The bill has been meet with protests from hundreds of people. It must pass a vote in the state Senate before moving to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.