Is McDonnell Now Backing Away From a State-Sanctioned Rape Bill?

See our earlier reporting on Virginia’s state-sanctioned trans-vaginal rape bill here.

Virginia Governor McDonnell signaled his intent to sign one of the most despicable bills in the country that would force women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound against her will in order to obtain an abortion.  Or in other words, a bill authorizing state-sanctioned rape.  But after speaking with Jeff Caldwell, McDonnell’s press secretary, it seems the Governor is not so eager to go on the record with his previously-held position.

I asked Caldwell if the governor really intended to sign a bill that met the standard of Virginia’s rape statute.  When put in those terms it seemed the Governor’s office balked.

“The governor will review it if it passes and will see what the final language of the bill is,” said Caldwell. 

I pressed and asked Caldwell if this is a new position for McDonnell, if he was backing off a bit as his statement suggested.  Mr. Caldwell flatly said, “No, he’s generally a pro-life candidate, I don’t think we are being inconsistent.” (Generally?)

Caldwell refused to say if Governor McDonnell would sign the state-sanctioned rape bill or not.  

I asked a handful of other questions:

Q: Would the governor consider taking the forced vaginal probe out of the bill with an amendment?

A:  They would have to review it.

Q:  Would a woman who became pregnant through rape or incest be granted dispensation from the law if she were seeking abortion to avoid another traumatic event only this time inflicted by the state? 

A:  They would review the final language of the bill and wouldn’t comment until it came to McDonnell’s desk.

Q:  What do you think is behind this bill (and personhood) – is the Governor operating behind the scenes to make Virginia the most anti-choice state in the nation or is it his shot at being VP?

A:  We just want to make sure that pregnant women have all the required information.

(However insufficient we may find Mr. Caldwell’s answers it is important to note many people in Caldwell’s position just simply don’t call back.)

Caldwell wouldn’t address how the state-sanctioned rape bill would stand up to scrutiny under Virginia law.  He instead directed me to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  I called the AG’s office and was passed through to a legislative specialist’s voicemail. 

Cuccinelli is fresh off a public appearance endorsing Virginia’s egg-as-person bill (naturally) also working its way to Governor McDonnell’s desk:

The measure extends fundamental rights claimed in the Declaration of Independence to unborn children, both Cuccinelli and Staver said.

“This personhood bill recognizes a scientific reality. Life begins at conception,” said Cuccinelli, a candidate for governor.  “Make sure you talk to your senators. Advocate for this issue.”  The bill, officially called House Bill 1, sponsored by Del. Bob Marshall, R-Fairfax, passed the House on a Republican-led, party-line 66-32 vote.

Interestingly rape is on Bob Marshall’s mind as well these days.  Of course he uses rape in a grotesque manner, demeaning the actual act of violence against women.  (I wrote a piece about this very thing yesterday: men using rape as a way to describe their personal economic and tax-related woes.)

This is an excerpt from the Washington Examiner in which Marshall takes on dreaded Obamacare:

Del. Bob Marshall, never one to shy away from controversial statements, told the U.S. Supreme Court Monday that the federal health care law was “akin to forcible economic rape.”  And; “The individual mandate is not regulation of voluntary commercial intercourse; it is more akin to forcible economic rape,” Marshall wrote.

This is not surprising coming from Marshall, who has his sights on the Senate.  After all, he is the guy who called disabled children God’s punishment for abortion. 

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  • rachel-larris

    I actually wouldn’t have believed McDonell (my guv) would even consider backing away from this bill. The fact he’s actually softening, just a little, in light of the framing of the “rape” bill has me really impressed with the action on this!

  • jodi-jacobson

    Its not a framing.  It is calling it what it is… forced penetration with an instrument.  this is rape.  the government is forcing women to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure agains their will to obtain a legal medical procedure.


    It is rape. I don’t know why we are afraid to call it what it is.

  • colek3

    We just want to make sure that pregnant women have all the required information”


    Really?  Is that information not already available?  Are there not already thousands of pictures of zygotes/embryos already available on the web (let alone in medical literature)?  Of course there are, this is an attempt to physically and mentally abuse women who are already in a situation which is physically and mentally abusive.

  • maiac

    Pointing out that characterizing this bill as state-sponsored rape is “framing” is NOT mututally exclusive with that being an accurate statement. “Framing” is a term for a process which does not speak to the accuracy or inaccuracy of the frame in question.

  • colleen

    I’ve always been uncomfortable with the ‘branding’, ‘framing’ school of political strategy because I think people ‘frame’ too much and have lost touch with and have become unable to recognise the honest truth.


  • datasnake

    A woman looks at the sonogram and says “OMFG, I’m pregnant? I had absolutely no idea, I thought abortion was just a fancy kind of liposuction! Those Evil Abortionists(tm) tried to trick me, and it would have worked if it weren’t for the brave, clever and handsome men in the state legislature rushing to my rescue! Thank you, kind strangers!”

    Would anyone care to guess how often that reaction actually happens?

  • crowepps

    We’re talking about politics and religion.  It’s been so long since most of the people involved in those fields have seen “honest” or “truth” that it’s unlikely they’d recognize either.

    Personally, I think someone ought to appeal this to the Supreme Court on the grounds that it imposes a “cruel and unusual punishment” to punish women and their doctors for performing a legal procedure.

  • crowepps
  • maiac

    Truth & facts are subjective. They are ALWAYS framed by the way we present them, our social locations, our life & social histories, and a million other social & personal factors.


    I get what you’re frustrated with – the complete denial of observable events by many on the radical right.

    I am frustrated with that too.


    However, there is no TRUTH, only those truths that we can assemble from the best framed information we can obtain.