Virginia Gov. McDonnell Signs Abortion-Ultrasound Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 7, 2012   |   5:07PM   |   Richmond, VA

Governor Bob McDonnell today signed into law a pro-life bill that allows women in Virginia to see the results of an ultrasound that is routinely performed by abortion facilities prior to an abortion.

After the Virginia state Senate approved the bill, the House voted 61-35 for final approval of HB 462 and it move to McDonnell’s desk.

Abortion advocates in Virginia have come under heavy criticism for equating the ultrasound legislation there would allow women to see before an abortion to rape.  Yet, while abortion backers say having an ultrasound is like getting raped, a 2003 study shows 99% of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities do them beforehand.

Leading pro-life organizations supported the measure.

“This is very good news for all Virginians, in particular mothers and their unborn children. The signing of this bill today shows that the Governor understands the need to support human life and to provide greater protection to the women by obtaining relevant and critical information before making the irreversible decision to abort their unborn child,” said Olivia L. Gans, President of Virginia Society for Human Life. “In spite of an aggressive and deliberately deceitful public campaign waged by pro-abortion forces against passage of this bill, the members of the Virginia General Assembly did the right thing by passing this reasonable bill. The amendments added by Gov. McDonnell maintain the requirement for abortionists to perform an ultrasound before an abortion. The bill also gives women seeking an abortion the opportunity to view that ultrasound if they so wish.”

“Today marks a victory for women in Virginia who will now have the opportunity to see their unborn child in the womb before making the life-altering decision of whether to have an abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of SBA List. “Women across Virginia are thankful for legislators on both sides of the aisle who refused to be bullied by the abortion lobby. The fierce national debate surrounding this bill showed that the abortion lobby is more concerned about protecting their bottom line than they are about trusting women. Women should be trusted with more information, not less.”

AUL president Charmaine Yoest added, “Abortion advocates engaged in a vicious campaign of misinformation against a proposal that would require a life-saving ultrasound test before giving women an abortion-inducing drug or an abortion procedure. We know that women with ectopic pregnancies have died when given life-ending drugs, which makes it particularly egregious that abortion advocates fought to prevent women from having all the medical information they need for informed consent. Ultrasounds are the gold standard of medical care, and women deserve to have such testing. AUL thanks the legislators of Virginia and Governor McDonnell for protecting the women and girls of the state.”

After 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. Then 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.

The Senate voted 21-19 mostly along party lines with two Democrats — Sen. Charles Colgan (Prince William) and Phil Puckett (Russell) voting with Republicans for the bill while Sen. John Watkins (Chesterfield), voted with Democrats against the pro-life measure.

Olivia Gans, President of the Virginia Society for Human Life, told LifeNews her group is “grateful that the Senate supported the right of women to have access to this critical and relevant medical information about their own bodies and their unborn children before they make the irreversible decision for an abortion.”

“VSHL is glad that there is still a requirement in the law passed that will guarantee that women will undergo an ultrasound before abortion, thereby protecting them from unscrupulous abortionists who would otherwise keep vital information from the women of Virginia,’ she said. “Tragically, the result of the pro-abortion lies and distortions surrounding this bill meant that the facts were deliberately obscured, including the fact that 98% of abortion facilities routinely perform ultrasounds before performing an abortion, including the hotly debated trans-vaginal ultrasound, according to data from various studies and pro-abortion groups, themselves.”

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.”

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.”

Despite claim that ultrasounds before abortions are not medically necessary or normally done, 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.”

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.

ACTION: Contact the governor here to thank him for signing the bill.