Virginia’s ultrasound bill: a major step forward for women and unborn children

Earlier this week, Virginia’s General Assembly passed a bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound test before obtaining an early term abortion. 

Opponents are outraged, as always, at the mere whiff of a shadow of a measure that promotes a culture of life.  This time, they argue that it is too invasive, as the ultrasound requires penetration into the woman’s body through the vagina.  Although I seriously doubt their concern is for women, I do share the concern.  As a libertarian-minded conservative, I hate to see government requiring such procedures on Virginia’s women as Rachael Maddow put it. 

However, I join republicans in supporting the measure for three important reasons. 

First off, the Commonwealth isn’t simply requiring women to undergo this procedure on a whim.  The state requires that health care providers follow certain regulations for any medical procedure.  This will now become part of the medical procedure known as abortion.  If a woman does not choose to have an abortion, she will not be required to have this medical test.  To hear opponents speak, every Virginia women would have reason to fear.  That isn’t the case.  This is just another in a string of tests required by the Commonwealth before receiving an abortion.

Second, informed consent is very important.  Virginia Democrats are calling on Governor McDonnell to allow women to have the power to opt-out of the test through refusing consent.  In many ways, this goes against our medical culture.  When we, as Americans, visit our local health care providers we like to know all of the facts before undergoing a procedure.  In fact, if a doctor withholds important facts from you on a medical procedure, the doctor can be held civilly liable or worse.  This test merely requires informed consent. 

An ultrasound performed from outside of a mother-to-be at eight weeks, comes out looking very unclear.  Seeing an unclear photo or not seeing one at all doesn’t truly give our women the necessary informed consent necessary to make a life altering decision.  The problem is that the baby is not large enough for us to get an accurate ultrasound photo through the epidermis and uterus.  However, an ultrasound photo taken from inside of the body is an amazing sight to behold.  At eight weeks, you can see a perfectly formed baby with a face and extremities in the fetal position.  It really is amazing. 

Although the discomfort of the test to women should not be in any way dismissed or downplayed, this really is an important step in allowing mothers to be informed of the ramifications of the choice that they make.  Hundreds of thousands of American women struggle with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome.  For those who advocate the rights of women, their responsibility should not only be on extending the “right to choose” before the procedure, but should extend to ensuring that these women do not have to endure a decision for the rest of their lives that they did not truly understand. 

Third, abortion proponents are being disingenuous when they argue that this is a restriction on a “woman’s right to choose.”  In no way will a mother be forced to pay for this test, nor will any result make her abortion more difficult to procure.  Roe and Casey are the law of the land and this bill comports with both as reasonable.  Informed consent is the least we can do for many women that truly do not understand the irreversible decision they are about to make.    

For Virginia pro-choicers who truly desire for abortion to be “safe, legal and rare” I implore you to look at ways to make that talking point a reality.  This is a reasonable informed consent law that will not only serve Virginia’s women and unborn children well, but reflects well on Virginia as a place where choosing life is part of our culture.

Over the next few weeks we’ll tackle personhood here in Virginia.

Tim Griffin is the editor of griffinelection.com and a Virginia resident/voter

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