Poll: Virginia Voters Strongly Disagree With Forced Ultrasound Law


A new poll out today from Quinnipiac University reveals that Virginia voters are not happy with the recently signed forced ultrasound law, and their confidence in and approval of both Governor Bob McDonnell and the state legislature has declined.

In fact, the poll found that Virginia voters disapprove of not only of the forced ultrasound law but also another making it easier to buy a handgun. 

According to Quinnipiac, Virginia voters disagree 52 to 41 percent with a the forced ultrasound law, which requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 24 hours before the procedure. These ultrasounds are not necessarily medically indicated and must be paid for by the woman herself if they are not.  Moreover, they increase the delays women experience and the costs of abortion by increasing time away from work and family responsibilities and increase other expenses such as transportation.

Interestingly, disapproval of the law is shown among Democrats and independents, while more men than women disapprove of the forced ultrasound law. In the poll, women disapprove 49 to 44 percent, while men disapprove 56 to 38 percent.  Republicans approve of the law 61 to 31 percent, Democrats disapprove 67 to 27 percent and independents disapprove 56 to 39.

“More men disapprove of the ultrasound law than women,” said Brown.

Moreover, Virginia voters said 72 to 21 percent that government should not make laws which try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds. [Emphasis in original poll].

The poll also asked about a new handgun law. Voters prefer 53 to 40 percent Virginia’s old law which limited an individual’s handgun purchases to one per month, over the new law which has no limits.  Can you say NRA?

The poll results indicate a decline in approval ratings for both the governor and the legislature.  According to Quinnipiac:

Voters approve 53 – 32 percent of the job Gov. McDonnell is doing, down from a 58 – 24 percent score February 9 and McDonnell’s lowest rating since the independent Quinnipiac University began Virginia surveys June 29, 2011.

The State Legislature’s negative 38 – 47 percent score is a 19-point shift from a 47 – 37 percent positive approval rating February 9 and the first time the legislature has received a negative grade.

The declines are seen among both women and men. Women approve of McDonnell 49 to 34 percent, down from 54 to 25 percent last month. Men approve 58 – 31 percent, compared to 62 to 23 percent last month.

Approval ratings for the state legislature–famous for its attacks on women–have fallen sharply since early February. The legislature’s rating in today’s poll came out as 38 percent approval to to 47 percent disapproval, down from a 47 to 37 percent positive approval rating February 9, and the first time, according to the poll, that the legislature has received a negative grade.

According to Quinnipiac:

“Virginia had been the only state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in which the State Legislature had received a net positive job approval,” Brown added.  “The fact that the legislature’s approval dropped so much, while approval ratings for other statewide elected officials are basically unchanged indicates that voter dissatisfaction is targeted.”

McDonnell’s approval ratings are down among Republicans, independent voters and Democrats alike, as well as among both white and black voters. Still, while his numbers are down, Brown points out that overall his approval ratings remain above the 50 percent mark.

The state’s other statewide elected officials all retain their net positive ratings:

  • U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) 62 – 23 percent;
  • U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) 49 – 28 percent;
  • Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling 36 (R) – 21 percent;
  • Attorney General Ken Cuccinell (R)i 45 – 32 percent.

According to the poll, people believe viewing their fetus because of the ultrasound law will make many women change their mind about an abortion, 12 percent of voters say, while 45 percent expect some women will change their mind.  Another 31 percent say hardly any women will change their mind and 5 percent say no women will change their mind.

This presents a huge educational opportunity as well as an opportunity to campaign for repealing the law. Data show unequivocally, for example, that forced ultrasounds do not cause women to change their mind about terminating an unintended or unwanted pregnancy. Moreover, since the vast majority–over 90 percent–of all abortions happen very early in pregnancy, there is really nothing to “see” on an ultrasound. Many of these laws have been sold based on a set of lies pushed by anti-choicers about the gestational stage of and effects of ultrasound that are not borne out by evidence.

The poll was conducted From March 13the to 18th. Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,034 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson