Virginia Senate OKs Allowing Women Pre-Abortion Ultrasound

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2012   |   2:50PM   |   Richmond, VA

The Virginia state Senate has approved a bill, on a 21-18 margin, that allows women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn child before an abortion — something abortion facilities don’t always allow.

The Senate has killed similar pro-life measures in recent years along party lines but election results allowing Republicans to run the chamber ensured passage of the pro-woman measure that has proven effective in reducing abortions in pregnancy centers by giving women more information before making an abortion decision.

The bill now heads to the House of Delegates, which has passed the bill in previous sessions and is expected to do so again. Once the legislature clears the measure, pro-life Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, says he will sign it into law.

Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation, applauded the vote, saying, “We are very pleased that the state Senate has recognized the need to update our existing informed consent practice with the most advanced medical technology available, including an ultrasound. The majority of Virginians see this proposal as reasonable and common sense.”

In fact, a recent Mason-Dixon poll, commissioned by the conservative group, found the majority of Virginians do support an ultrasound provision before abortion. According to the study, 54 percent of people back the law, 28 percent oppose it and 18 percent are undecided. More women back the idea than men, with 57 percent of women lending their support compared to 50 percent of men.

“We believe these poll numbers are important because they verify that the Virginians that sent more conservatives to Richmond this year, leading to a super majority in the House and a majority in the state Senate, knew exactly what they were doing and have expectations that these and other values issues will be successful.  Opinion matters; but opinion that drives behavior matters more,” Cobb said.

Jessica Honke, the director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Virginia, one of the pro-abortion groups opposing the bill, condemned the poll saying it can be manipulated.

Senator Jill Vogel, R-Winchester, the sponsor of the bill says, “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.”

But Brian Moran, chairman of the state Democratic Party, condemned allowing the ultrasound, according to the Washington Post.

“These bills are not what Virginians had in mind when they elected Virginia Republicans to lead in Richmond,” he said. “Middle class families need leaders who are focused on jobs, education and transportation, not on trying to wedge their way into health care decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor.”

Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee, doesn’t understand why abortion backers would oppose allowing women to see an ultrasound of their babies: “What are abortion advocates afraid of? Probably that when mothers see the recognizable images of their unborn children as they kick and move inside the womb, with beating hearts, abortionists will lose business.”

Balch added: “As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in Gonzalss v. Carhart in 2007, ‘Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision….The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed. It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know…’”