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.