[Updated 5:15 pm, Feb. 22, 2012]
Gov. McDonnell released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he would not support the sonogram bill unless it is amended to say that no woman will be required to undergo a transvaginal sonogram without her permission.
Below is the original version of the article
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is reportedly taking a closer look at a bill requiring an ultrasound for women seeking an abortion. A host of liberal bloggers, media pundits and comedians have charged that the bill is akin to "state sponsored rape" because it requires the use of a transvaginal probe. Supporters of the bill claim the rape accusations are "ridiculous" and the bill does not require a transvaginal probe in any event.
The bill would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound to determine the gestation of the fetus and to be offered an opportunity to view an image of the fetus. Some critics claim that, since gestation can only be determined in early pregnancies by a transvaginal ultrasound, rather than an abdominal ultrasound, it meets the federal definition of rape.
"The law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under the federal definition," Dahlia Lithwick wrote for Slate.
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" also used the accusation to mock the bill.
"Now don't get me wrong. I love transvaginal. It's my favorite airline," Amy Poehler joked.
John W. Whitehead, a pro-life Christian and founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, sent McConnell a letter Monday arguing that the bill is unconstitutional. He did not argue that the bill amounted to state-sponsored rape, but said it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure clause.
If enacted, the law would "ensure that women seeking to exercise their court-sanctioned right to an abortion would be treated as if they were suspects and forcefully subjected to an invasive technique in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Doing so will render them as little more than criminal suspects in terms of this legislation," Whitehead wrote.
McConnell had said he would sign the bill, but is taking another look at the bill in light of some of the concerns raised. He met with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday night to discuss some amendments that might be added to the bill before Wednesday's vote on final passage of the bill, according to The Washington Post.
Supporters of the bill note that nothing in the bill requires a transvaginal ultrasound. Rather, the bill states, "the ultrasound image shall be made pursuant to standard medical practice in the community."
Streiff at RedState.com argues that while transvaginal ultrasounds are accurate, abdominal ultrasounds can still be used to determine gestation at the early stages of a pregnancy, so the bill would not impose a transvaginal probe onto anyone.
"Is this just like rape?" Streiff continues. "That's even more ridiculous. Abortion is a voluntary procedure, one far more vaginally invasive than any ultrasound, and all the state is doing is requiring that anyone choosing that procedure has to first consent to a prior procedure.
"This is not how rapists, in general, operate. It's crackpottery on the level of saying that it's assault to require you to consent to a chest incision before you can have open heart surgery. Doctors perform invasive diagnostic tests before more serious procedures every day without being called rapists by Luddite lawyers."