Governor signs ultrasound bill

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

By Michael Bodine

Capital News Service

The much-debated bill that requires ultrasound testing before abortions has been signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

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The bill, proposed by Delegate Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg, has been among the most hotly contested social issues in this year’s General Assembly. It even sparked national criticism.

McDonnell signed House Bill 462 into law on Wednesday. Because the measure was amended multiple times, it first had to endure two votes from each house of the General Assembly this session.

After signing the legislation, McDonnell issued a statement that acknowledged both sides of the mandatory-ultrasound debate. He also stated why he saw it as a necessary measure.

“As difficult as an abortion decision is, the information provided by ultrasounds, along with other information given by the doctor pursuant to current law and prevailing medical practice, can help the mother make a fully informed decision,” McDonnell said.

“I believe that we become a more compassionate society when we enact reasonable legislation to protect innocent human life.”

The Virginia Society for Human Life expressed its gratitude for the bill’s passage.

“In spite of an aggressive and deliberately deceitful public campaign waged by pro-abortion forces against passage of this bill, the members of the Virginia General Assembly did the right thing by passing this reasonable bill,” said the society said Wednesday in a press release.

“The women and unborn children of Virginia owe a debt of thanks to (McDonnell) and the General Assembly for supporting this pro-woman law.”

The original wording of Byron’s bill would have mandated the use of a transvaginal probing procedure, but the bill was amended at McDonnell’s request to require only a transabdominal ultrasound.

About 1,000 people protesting the bill stationed themselves on the steps of the Capitol on Saturday in a final attempt to stop McDonnell from signing it. Many protesters ignored police officers who commanded them to leave. About 30 were arrested.

Democratic legislators were quick to voice their distaste for the governor’s signing of the bill. Delegate Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, criticized McDonnell, saying his views on invasive government procedures did not line up.

“Gov. McDonnell believes that federal health care reform is ‘big government’ and that airport pat-downs are too invasive,” Kory said. “I can’t think of a single bill passed this session that is more intrusive and contains more government meddling into private, personal decisions than a requirement to get an unnecessary medical procedure solely to satisfy a rigid social agenda.”

Outcry over the governor’s decision to pass the bill extended beyond this year’s Democratic members of the General Assembly.

Former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine spoke out against the legislation. He said the issue distracts from areas where legislators need to find common ground to allow the country to “create jobs, grow our economy, educate our workforce and tackle our deficit.”

“Deviations into the social debates of the past not only distract from those challenges, but they actually hurt our reputation as a world-class place to do business,” said Kaine, who is campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat.

Brian Moran, who chairs the Democratic Party of Virginia, cited the bill in a fundraising plea for his party. He has asked people who oppose the bill to make campaign donations to the Democrats.

“Virginia Republicans know they cannot win this year if they don’t distract the public from their dangerous, divisive and disgusting attack on women, so they’re trying to change the subject,” Moran said.