Yesterday, the Virginia House of Delegates voted in favor of an amendment, submitted by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, to a bill requiring women to obtain an ultrasound 24 hours prior to having an abortion. Although women would still be required to obtain an ultrasound, the amendment would allow them to undergo an external, transabdominal ultrasound, as opposed to a transvaginal ultrasound, as originally stated in the bill.
Although McDonnell initially pledged his unconditional support of the transvaginal ultrasound bill, he revised his position earlier this week, saying that he would need to review the bill before signing it. The Governor claimed that he only recently learned about the invasiveness of a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires a probe being inserted into the vagina.
Nevertheless the Democrats were not satisfied with the changes to the mandatory ultrasound bill. Delegate David Toscano (D-Albemarle) stated, “I think we need to spend time with this – we shouldn’t be playing doctor on the House floor with this kind of language. The public has an interest in this bill and has not seen it until 20 minutes ago.”
Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia also stated, “the governor sent ill-thought out amendments to the House of Delegates for SB 484. The governor claims he’s fixed the bill, but it actually adds insult to injury. The bill still mandates ultrasounds before women can access their constitutionally protected right to obtain an abortion. This is about the governor’s political aspirations, not about women’s health or protecting her rights.”
Prior to the addition of the amendment, the House and the Senate had approved separate versions of the bill, although yesterday the House postponed a final vote on the Senate bill. An amendment, introduced by Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), requiring the women’s consent for the transvaginal ultrasound probe was ruled non germane by the House Speaker. An alternate amendment introduced by Delegate David Englin (D-Alexandria) was then voted down.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Statement 2/22/12; Huffington Post 2/22/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/22/12