Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) disputed the notion that he’s spending too much time legislating social policy during this morning Politico forum, as he continued to distance himself from a measure that would have required women to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion. Under the proposed policy, most women seeking seeking an abortion would have been forced to have a procedure, “in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced.”
The governor explained that he has focused on “getting our budgets under control” and “jobs,” not social policy, and claimed that he hadn’t read the original provision before publicly endorsing it. McDonnell also added that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a conservative powerhouse within the Republican party, advised him that the measure was unconstitutional:
MCDONNELL: We realized there were different kinds of ultrasounds and so what I recommended to the General Assembly, and they adopted the other day, is let’s make the requirement for the abdominal ultrasound… I also got legal advice from various people, including my Attorney General, that these kinds of mandatory invasive requirements might run afoul of Fourth Amendment law. So those were the reasons…After talking to lawyers and doctors on my own, after we started hearing some concerns int he legislature, I personally looked at it. I mean, normally a governor would review these hundreds of hundreds of bills when they get to your desk. You’re so busy advocating your own agenda, you don’t read every legislator’s bill. But I was certainly supportive of that concept.
Until the bill attracted national media attention and frustrated some in the Republican party, however, “McDonnell and his aides had said the governor would sign the measure if it made it to his desk.” Since then, he issued a statement claiming that “Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state” and offered an amendment that would not force women to receive the procedure. Studies have shown that viewing an ultrasound does not change a woman’s mind before an abortion and only adds to the cost of the procedure.
The Virginia House and a Senate committee have passed the ultrasound bill with the governor’s substitute language.