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Virginia Governor Backs Off ‘State-Sponsored Rape’ Ultrasound Bill, Promises To ‘Review’ Measure

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"Virginia Governor Backs Off ‘State-Sponsored Rape’ Ultrasound Bill, Promises To ‘Review’ Measure"

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A depiction of the procedure

A bill requiring women to undergo an invasive ultrasound before having an abortion has already sailed through the Virginia Senate, and was to be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) once it cleared the House. Under the proposed policy, most women seeking seeking an abortion will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced.”

But now McDonnell is backing away from his previous wholehearted support of the measure. Earlier, he told ABC News he supports “the concept that a woman should have all of the information possible before she makes a decision about terminating a pregnancy.” Now, his office has clarified that he will “review” the bill if it passes the General Assembly:

“Our position is: If the General Assembly passes this bill the governor will review it, in its final form, at that time,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said in a statement. He declined to explain the change in approach, but Virginia’s governors can sign, veto or amend legislation.

The House and Senate have approved their versions of the bill. On Tuesday, the House postponed a final vote on the legislation…for the second day in a row. [...]

The officials with knowledge of Tuesday night’s Republican meeting said GOP leaders hope to introduce amendments on Wednesday, but it is unclear whether the rank and file would support them.

Virginians opposed to the ultrasound bill held a silent protest on Tuesday. Wearing stickers that said, “Say No to State-Mandated Rape” and “Private Property: Keep Out,” several hundred demonstrators locked arms outside of the Capitol. And a new poll shows that a majority in the state oppose the requirement, which has been spoofed by NBC’s Saturday Night Live and mocked on The Daily Show. “This is like a TSA pat-down inside their vagina,” Jon Stewart explained, contrasting McDonnell’s support for this measure and his opposition to TSA pat-downs.

But while Virginia’s governor is backing away from the invasive bill, legislators in Alabama and Pennsylvania are considering the same ultrasound policy. Even though studies show that viewing an ultrasound does not change a woman’s mind about having an abortion, Pennsylvania Rep. Marcy Toepel (R) argued that “Getting an ultrasound is a good thing for pregnant women.”

Seven states already mandate that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on women seeking abortions and provide women an opportunity to view the image. In Virginia’s proposed law, a woman would have to sign a statement and have the ultrasound image added to her medical records if she refuses to view it.

Update

This morning, a coalition of grassroots organizations supporting women’s health delivered 33,030 signed petitions to McDonnell from people who oppose the ultrasound bill and other anti-abortion measures. “Our message today is clear: stop the attacks on women’s health. Stop interfering in personal, private medical decisions. [...] Get back to work,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA, one of the groups that helped organize the petition drive.

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