Virginia Governor Backs Away from State Sanctioned Rape Bill

VA Gov. Bob McDonnell

The Hill is reporting that the Virginia House of Delegates has passed their anti-abortion bill that apparently doesn’t include the mandated transvaginal ultrasound requirement. The state Senate has already passed a version of the bill.

According to Think Progress, Governor Bob McDonnell “publicly backtracked” from his previous position in support of the ultrasound requirement and asked for an amendment to the bill:

I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision.

But Think Progress notes that even requiring the less invasive ultrasound is still an attempt to intimidate women who need abortions.

…the ultrasound bill is still unnecessary. Studies have shown that viewing an ultrasound does not change a woman’s mind before an abortion, and the Guttmacher Institute reports that requiring an abortion only adds to the cost of an abortion. “Since routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion,” the group writes.

According to NBC news, the “watering down” of the ultrasound requirement “likely dooms the measure.”

The amended bill now returns to the Senate where its sponsor, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she will strike the legislation.

The House action came moments after McDonnell — facing outrage from women and appeals from GOP moderates — announced he was opposing the original bill requiring vaginal probes.

RH Reality Check calls it a “partial victory.” Naturally, they’re a bit more harsh than some of the corporation media outlets:

Today, after a week of media coverage of a bill mandating that women seeking abortion undergo medically unnecessary state-sanctioned trans-vaginal ultrasounds, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is now backing down. A little.

Over the past year, Virginia has been a “leader” in passing laws to harass and intimidate abortion providers and patients. Recently, for example, and despite widespread condemnation by the public health and medical communities, McDonnell signed into law regulations for clinics providing abortion care intended to do nothing other than shut them down. In this instance, medical evidence meant… well… nothing to him.

Now, however, angling for a role as Vice President in the 2012 election, watching the backlash against the far right’s efforts to politicize women’s health, and after a week of intense media scrutiny of a plan to mandate trans-vaginal ultrasounds (including by RH Reality Check) medical evidence has suddenly become very, very important to the governor.

Thanks to the overwhelming negative reaction to this outrageous bill in the blogosphere and the quick action of Virginia women in organizing their silent protest at the Virginia statehouse, we appear to have won a small battle in the war against women.

10 Comments on “Virginia Governor Backs Away from State Sanctioned Rape Bill”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The fight over contraception coverage is spreading to the states.

    New Hampshire, for instance, is one of 28 states that already have a contraception coverage mandate similar to the new federal rule — but Republican lawmakers there are considering repealing it.

    “We didn’t know it was there,” Speaker William O’Brien told the Nashua Telegraph last week. “We don’t want it there.” ….

    Variants of opt-out legislation have already been filed in at least three states. In Missouri, for instance, a Senate panel endorsed a bill that would exempt employers from the contraception coverage requirement on religious grounds. Missouri has refused to accept a federal exchange grant and backs the Supreme Court case against the Affordable Care Act. Similar legislation has been introduced in Idaho and Arizona.


  2. bostonboomer says:

    More breaking news…a CA judge (a Bush appointee) has found DOMA unconstitutional.

    Moments ago, Judge Jeffery White of the District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause in a case brought by Karen Golinski. Golinski, represented by Lambda Legal, “was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.” White was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush in 2002. The decision represents a serious setback for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) defended DOMA after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the law. Read the full opinion here (PDF).

    • bostonboomer says:

      The court “rebuked Congress”:

      Here, too, this Court finds that Congress cannot, like an ostrich, merely bury its head in the sand and wait for danger to pass, especially at the risk of permitting continued constitutional injury upon legally married couples. The fact that the issue is socially divisive does nothing to relieve the judiciary of its obligation to examine the constitutionality of the discriminating classifications in the law.

  3. ralphb says:

    This is good news but women in VA had best stay on guard unless this bill comes back.

    In TX the initial attempts, two of them, failed to pass the ultrasound bill here during the regular legislative session. However there were pending budget items left over so Gov Perry called a special session of the legislature. He then stuck the US bill on an “emergency list” and with a lot of extra pressure from Perry and his high dollar donors the bill passed there. Of course this caught the opposition by surprise, just as it was planned.

    Rule of thumb: These bastards don’t quit!

  4. Roofingbird says:

    I would think that if one followed the RTL logic of just when humanhood is really achieved, one would be unwilling to chance permitting unnecessary medical procedures on said human, just because of a basic belief that women are liars and not to be trusted.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Women legislators in Georgia propose ban on vasectomies.

    “Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” said Rep. Yasmin Neal, D-Riverdale, author of the Democrats’ bill. “It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States.”

    Charlie Pierce’s commentary.