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Revised, Still Offensive Ultrasound Bill Passes In Virginia

Revised, Still Offensive Ultrasound Bill Passes In Virginia 19-20
Revised, Still Offensive Ultrasound Bill Passes In Virginia
By: David Dayen Wednesday February 29, 2012 8:00 am
While everyone was high-fiving the pullback by the Virginia legislature of their trans-vaginal ultrasound bill and happily discussing how conservatives had overreached on social issues, the GOP determinedly made their changes and passed a mandatory ultrasound bill. The final vote in the state Senate was 21-19, actually a closer vote than the 21-18 count on the trans-vaginal bill that they passed earlier. But they got it done.

The state Senate approved the weaker ultrasound law by a 21 to 19 vote on Tuesday with an exemption for women whose pregnancy resulting from rape or incest is reported to police. The House, which had already approved the ultrasound law, will now consider the Senate amendments and then could send the proposed law to McDonnell for his signature.

The bill approved by the Senate would offer, rather than require, a woman undergo an additional invasive procedure such as a vaginal probe if the mandatory abdominal ultrasound fails to determine the age of the fetus [...]The Virginia measure also requires that the woman seeking an abortion be offered the chance to see the fetal image, and that a copy of the image would be in the woman’s medical record at the abortion facility for seven years.

Six other states have passed laws requiring abortion providers to perform ultrasounds, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health issues.

One Democratic Senator raised the spectre of back-alley abortions and that still wasn’t enough. And if the controversy over the forced rape bill didn’t deter Virginia Republicans from still legislating in that general area, I think the takeaway other states controlled by Republicans will get is that, as long as they stay away from the vagina, they too can mandate the ultrasound and chip away at abortion rights.

As I’ve noted, there are additional burdens placed on women with a mandate like this. First, they have to make two trips to the clinic, with a time period in between. They have to pay for the ultrasound. They have to endure this propaganda of seeing the image or hearing the “fetal heartbeat,” which is the entire point of the bill, to force them to have a change of heart and keep the baby. The track record for that in ultrasound states is low, but it just becomes an added humiliation. A version of this bill in one state forces the monitor showing the ultrasound to be directed at the women’s face, though she can turn her head. Republicans call this a “right to know” bill, just a conveyance of information to women. As if they were unsure that they were carrying a fetus around inside them.

Lawmakers in Alabama and Idaho have quietly altered their copycat versions of this bill to conform to Virginia’s standard. We’ll see this in two dozen states by the end of the year, that’s my prediction. We may have found a bright line that conservatives won’t cross – for now – but they ultimately won the battle in the the war on women.
UPDATE: A strong piece by Jillian Rayfield suggests that the trans-vaginal bills are just for show, and the version that eventually gets passed represents the real desired outcome from social conservatives.

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