Virginia Senate Passes Bill Mandating Ultrasound Before Abortion

The Virginia state Senate jumpstarted lawmakers' 2012 pro-life agenda Wednesday with the passage of an informed consent bill mandating abortion providers perform an ultrasound on a patient before conducting an abortion.

Supporting senators herald the 21-18 vote as victory for women because the ultrasound bill will ensure they receive more medical information prior to an abortion procedure.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, agreed in a statement on the NARAL website that women should have access to an ultrasound but said the state Senate bill forces it on women.

The bill mandates that abortion providers perform an ultrasound to determine the gestation age of the fetus. Patients must be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound pictures. Patients have a right to refuse, but the pictures must be kept in a file. The women must also sign statements stating they willfully declined to view the ultrasound images.

The bill, Keene later told The Washington Post, is invasive to a woman's right to privacy.

"When Virginians understand the full impact of these bills, they do not support them and do not want lawmakers to interfere in women's personal, private decisions regarding abortion and other reproductive-health care,'' she said.

Bill sponsor Virginia Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) told The Washington Post that having an ultrasound prior to an abortion gives women "autonomy."

"It is not invasive. It does not attempt to infringe in any way on the doctor-patient relationship, and it absolutely does not infringe on her right to have an abortion," she asserted.

The bill is also a victory for local pro-life groups and state Republicans who have tried unsuccessfully to adopt this measure ensuring that women have one more option to consider their actions before having an abortion and several other pro-life legislations.

Now the Republican-controlled state House and Senate expect to pass a laundry list of pro-life bills into law.

Future bills include a personhood amendment giving rights to unborn children at every stage of development, a bill to repeal state funding of abortion and a fetal pain bill.

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