Virginia: Ultrasound Bill Moves Ahead, Personhood Dies

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 23, 2012   |   5:00PM   |   Richmond, VA

The Virginia state House and a state Senate committee have approved the amended bill to allow women to see an ultrasound of their baby before an abortion.

A state Senate panel in approved an amended version of the pre-abortion ultrasound bill that has drawn national attention as abortion backers have equated ultrasounds with rape.

After Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell called for modifications to the bill to ensure that women are not required to get a transvaginal ultrasound, the state House approved its bill on a 65-32 vote. This morning, the Senate Education and Health Committee vote 8-7 on party lines for House Bill 462, with Sen. Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake casting the deciding vote by proxy. That came after he left a committee room earlier this year and caused a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks to die.

The amended bill, changed at McDonnell’s request, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, “splits the ultrasound requirement — mandating trans-abdominal ultrasounds where the procedure can be used to determine gestational age, but making the procedure optional in those cases where an invasive, transvaginal ultrasound is needed to make the determination.”

The state Senate committee also approved legislation sponsored by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, that says the position of the state of Virginia is that human life begins at conception. That bill also received an 8-7 party-line vote.

However, the Senate then voted 24-14 Thursday to send the bill back to committee — essentially killing the legislation until 2013. Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment of James City County made the motion to shelve the bill, saying more study is needed, and urged Republicans to vote against it.

“There were many more complexities and nuances and legal arguments and legal perspectives on that bill that I had ever imagined,” Norment said, according to AP.

Earlier this month, the full state House approved the bill. Since HB 1 is not a criminal law, it will not affect the current practice of abortion but it will in fact recognize that unborn children are human beings, Marshall said.

After the state House passed the ultrasound legislation, the Family Foundation, a statewide pro-life group that is one of the main backers of the bill, told its members this afternoon that “it has become clear that the only way for the bill to pass the legislature is to have the bill amended.”

“Given the strong pro-life credentials of this Governor and the fact that both chambers of the General Assembly have already passed this bill, we are extremely disappointed in this outcome,” TFF president Victoria Cobb said. “Unfortunately, some in Richmond are placing more trust in the abortion industry, believing that they will do the necessary tests regardless of the law, then in the clear standard of care the original bill calls for.  We do not for one minute believe that the abortion industry has the best interest of the mother in mind.”

“That said, the passage of an ultrasound bill is essential to advancing a culture of life in Virginia.  If SB 484 is not amended we have been told that it will not pass.  That would be, in our opinion, a far worse outcome then the amendments being offered.  For this reason, we are no longer opposing the amendments,” Cobb added. “This is a very, very difficult day for The Family Foundation and our pro-life partners around the state and country who have been watching to see what would happen to Virginia.”

“Unfortunately, what we have learned in the past few weeks is that the $1 billion abortion industry in the United States has absolute and uncontrolled power over nearly every branch of government.  It is in control, make no mistake about that,” Cobb continued. “We know that there are many, many members of the General Assembly who want to stand firm and take the fight to the abortion industry.  The Governor has made a decision that he believes is best and the General Assembly will make a decision they believe is best.  At the end of the day we hope that we will have a law that protects women and unborn children to the best of our ability.”

McDonnell released a statement advising pro-life lawmakers in the Virginia legislature pursuing a bill to allow women to have an ultrasound performed before an abortion to make change to the legislation. His office released a statement this afternoon calling for amendments to ensure the bill does not mandate that women be required to have an ultrasound beforehand — even though ultrasounds are routinely done before an abortion, according to a study of Planned Parenthood abortion centers and independent abortion clinics.

“Having looked at the current proposal, I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done,” McDonnell said in the statement, adding that “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,” McDonnell said, saying he wants the legislature 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,” McDonnell said.

In the statement, McDonnell reaffirms his pro-life views, saying, ‘I am pro-life” and he believes “deeply in the sanctity of innocent human life and believe(s) governments have a duty to protect human life.”

Virginia Democratic Party chair Brian Moran blasted McDonnell for not going far enough, according to the Washington Post.

“Let’s be clear: the course of action that Governor McDonnell has advocated forces an unnecessary medical procedure on Virginia women whether their doctors think they need them or not,” Moran said in a statement. “Should Virginia women thank the Governor for giving them a choice over the type of procedure the state will force on them at his behest?”

Abortion advocates have created a firestorm of criticism for itself by making the wild-eyed claim that allowing women in Virginia a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn child before the abortion is akin to rape.

However, new information has surfaced showing the abortion business already does pre-abortion ultrasounds on women to determine the age of the unborn child prior to the abortion — making it so the abortion business, in its own words, “rapes” women already. The question then becomes whether or not women will be allowed to see the ultrasound image or heart the audio of the heartbeat of their baby.

Alana Goodman of Commentary magazine says Planned Parenthood provides the following on a telephone hotline:

“Patients who have a surgical abortion generally come in for two appointments. At the first visit we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit generally takes about an hour. At the second visit, the procedure takes place. This visit takes about an hour as well. For out of town patients for whom it would be difficult to make two trips to our office, we’re able to schedule both the initial appointment and the procedure on the same day.

Medical abortions generally require three visits. At the first visit, we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit takes about an hour. At the second visit, the physician gives the first pill and directions for taking two more pills at home. The third visit is required during which you will have an exam and another ultrasound.”

As pro-life blogger Jill Stanek notes, “There is nothing in HB 462 that mandates the use of transvaginal ultrasound rather than abdominal ultrasound, but pro-aborts have swarmed around this possibility comparing it to rape.”

“Early in a pregnancy –  4-8ish weeks depending on several factors, including the girth of the mother – a baby’s age cannot be ascertained by other than a transvaginal ultrasound,” Stanek explains. “And this has been determined necessary for the safety of mothers in Virginia based on previous disciplinary actions against abortionists for grossly misjudging a baby’s age.”

Other pro-life advocates note that the abortion drug RU 486 can kill women without the use of an ultrasound to detect an ectopic pregnancy.

Seven states have laws that require an ultrasound for each abortion and require the abortion practitioner to offer the opportunity to view the image: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Okahoma and Mississippi.