Gov. Bob McDonnell on Wednesday signed legislation mandating that a woman undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, acting on the bill amid a scorching debate that has thrust Virginia into the national spotlight and sparked protests at the state Capitol.
The approval came despite persistent pressure from women’s rights demonstrators to spike the legislation, which in its original form could have required some women to undergo an ultrasound with a vaginal probe.
Once the details of the procedure were discussed publicly, McDonnell urged amendments that still would require an abdominal ultrasound but allow a woman to reject the more invasive procedure.
Opponents of the bill — hundreds of whom flocked Saturday to a rally that resulted in the arrests of 30 people who refused to leave the Capitol’s steps — argue that the latest version requires an unnecessary medical procedure that should be left to discussion between a woman and her doctor.
Often, ultrasounds are performed with a vaginal probe early in a pregnancy for a more accurate determination of the gestational age.
“Women have a right to know all the available medical and legal information surrounding the abortion decision before giving legally effective informed consent,” McDonnell said in a statement announcing his action.
“This bill does not legally alter a woman’s ability to make a choice regarding her pregnancy.”
Over the course of the debate, much of the furor was aimed at McDonnell, considered a GOP vice presidential prospect. Some opponents have tried to keep heat on the governor. They arranged to gather at his precinct Tuesday morning when he was scheduled to vote. McDonnell changed his schedule, pushing up his voting and missing the protest.
A vigil is scheduled tonight behind the Executive Mansion.
Supporters argue that clinics already routinely perform ultrasounds before abortions.
Source: Richmond Times Dispatch | WESLEY P. HESTER | OLYMPIA MEOLA