The bill in Virginia requiring all abortion seekers get a mandatory ultrasound is now in peril, after the right-wing Senator who introduced the trans-vaginal ultrasound requirement rebelled against changes asked for by Governor Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell backtracked on the trans-vaginal ultrasound bill yesterday, asking the House of Delegates to amend the bill to a trans-abdominal ultrasound, claiming that he didn’t fully understand the “invasiveness” of the trans-vaginal procedure (I guess “trans-vaginal” wasn’t descriptive enough). The House of Delegates quickly passed the bill with that change yesterday. But Jill Holtzman Vogel, the sponsor of the bill in the state Senate, said she would strike the bill entirely, rather than agree to the amendment. This convenient fit of pique from Vogel means that the bill is unlikely to get consideration in the Senate this year. And next year is an election year in Virginia.
Vogel admitted that she didn’t have the full information on the bill before the fact, a natural reaction to try to duck out on a bill that has caused national controversy.
Vogel’s bill and similar measures were presented by their sponsors as means to ensure that women were fully informed before agreeing to an abortion. Vogel said Wednesday that conflicting advice from people on both sides of the issue led her to begin to have doubts about her bill, SB484.
She said she was “not ashamed to stand up in front of my colleagues – and some I know who will be very upset with me for doing this – and admit if I don’t know the answer and if I don’t have all the answers.”
In an interview after the session, she said, “I have a lot of sensitivity to all those issues” being raised by opponents. “I didn’t believe I could continue to carry the bill with all the current questions out there.”
Del. Kathy J. Byron, R-Campbell County, sponsored a similar ultrasound bill that passed the House and is being considered by the Senate, but its fate seems in doubt.
On this issue, the system may have worked. It appears the public outcry was enough to stop this legislation in its tracks (though activists should still be vigilant).
But the abortion battle, and the larger battle over women’s health, still will play out in the states. A judge in Washington state ruled just yesterday that pharmacies do not have to stock Plan B or other emergency contraceptives. And a Republican lawmaker in New Hampshire wants to repeal the contraception mandate in that state. The culture wars are just warming up, and while maybe the Virginia bill became too hot to handle, the forces who want to subjugate women are not likely to stop.