After weeks of protest in the state of Virginia and nationally, Governor Bob McDonnell signs a bill forcing women to have and pay out of pocket for an expensive and often medically-unnecessary medical procedure before they can terminate a pregnancy. McDonnell, in taking all choice and power out of the hands of women and the medical professionals they have entrusted with their care, calls the bill an “effort to empower women.”
The bill, originally amended to remove a provision requiring a trans-vaginal ultrasound, which we contend constituted state-sponsored rape, now requires an abdominal ultrasound. The latter procedure is virtually useless for many early terminations of pregnancy because the embryo is not visible through abdominal ultrasound. The bill does say that “should a trans-vaginal ultrasound be needed, the doctor is required to offer it but the woman is allowed to refuse it.
Mandating an ultrasound that is not medically necessary of course ensures that you are both raising the costs of an abortion and also passing the costs onto the woman, because insurance will not cover medically unnecessary procedures
Moreover, the bill says the bill incorporates waiting periods for the ultrasound, increasing the time and costs of, for example, time off from work and child care. Doctors must make an offer of a trans-vaginal ultrasound, offer the woman a chance to view the ultrasound (whether trans-vaginal or abdominal) and hear it; the patient then has to certify she has seen the ultrasound, and the image produced–if one can be–has to be kept in her file. Doctors that don’t follow these guidelines face a civil fine of $2500.00. This is a common method of harassment of abortion providers… set up lots of requirements that have nothing to do with patient safety or medical necessity, and then constantly harrass doctors to make sure they are “complying. has to be kept in there, if not all complied with specifically, then face a civil.
The bill had little support in the state.
“The evidence is stacking up that Bob McDonnell is willfully out of touch with Virginia families,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA.
“Faced with the opposition of 55 % of Virginians, 33,000 petition signatures, and thousands of protestors on Capitol Square, McDonnell chose to answer the calls of extremists in his own party rather than those of his constituents. This move makes clear that Bob McDonnell prioritizes his national political aspirations over the well being of Virginia families.”
“The bill is an unprecedented invasion of privacy and government intrusion into the doctors’ offices and living rooms of Virginia women,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.
“Governor McDonnell’s unwillingness to listen to the thousands of women across the Commonwealth who are outraged by this political overreach into their lives shows nothing more than arrogance.”
Another bill working its way through the Virginia legislature contains a provision repealing current funding for low-income women to get Medicaid funding for assistance in paying for abortions in pregnancies involving fetal anomalies.
Repeal of this funding means that women already struggling economically and facing pregnancies gone tragically wrong must carry to term, a form of coercion one advocate called “cruel and disgusting.”
And they call this “empowerment.”