And now for some good news and some bad news.
The good news: Virginia might not forcibly wand women’s vaginas after all.
The bad news: Virginia had thought that forcibly wanding women’s vaginas was a good idea in the first place.
Let’s rewind a bit. Last week, Slate reported on a bill passed by the Virginia legislature that would require abortion-seeking women to undergo an ultrasound.
Thing is, most terminations take place during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, meaning some women would have to undergo invasive procedures called transvaginal ultrasounds.
This test consists of sticking a probe in a woman’s vagina and shifting it around until an ultrasound image is produced.
If that doesn’t sound horrible enough, know that the Virginia legislature opted out of an amendment to the bill which would have given women the opportunity to opt out.
So the proposed Virginia law would have advocated the forced penetration of women — which is pretty much the state’s definition of rape.
Anyway, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell — a pro-lifer who had supported the idea — weathered a very ugly PR shitstorm, which might have prompted him to announce today that the measure is a bit excessive, the Washington Post reports.
McDonnell says that he wants the legislature to amend the bill so that women will not have to involuntarily undergo transvaginal ultrasounds.
From his press release:
“I have recommended to the General Assembly a series of amendments to this bill. I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill 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.
I have requested other amendments that help clarify the purposes of the bill and reflect a better understanding of prevailing medical practices. It is my hope that the members of the General Assembly will act favorably upon these recommendations from our office. We will await their action prior to making any further comments on this matter.”
Some might call this a step in the right direction.
But a step just isn’t enough when you’re dealing with half the population’s reproductive rights.
Virginia should abandon this measure altogether. And other states — which passed 92 abortion restrictions in 2011 — should follow suit.