Virginia’s Ultrasound Law
This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, 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 state law.
That sounds terrible.
I hereby propose the First Law of The LoOG, herein and forever to be known as the Thompson Non-Troversy Principle, or TNTP: “The greater the sense of personal outrage one feels upon reading a story, the more likely the story is to misrepresent the facts”, I dug a little deeper.
(edited to add) This blogger has made an egregious error. In my defense, the Virginia.gov web site doesn’t exactly present its data in way that doesn’t encourage just this sort of error.
The link I provide below points to a full text version of the bill that was withdrawn on 02/02/12 by Sentator Northam, who submitted it. This means the correct current version of the bill is the previous version, which is the one on 01/26/12, which does indeed have the mandate. (/edited)
Current text of the Virginia “Informed Consent” (i.e., “Ultrasound prior to Abortion”) law is here:
I quote the relevant passage:
“Except in the case of a medical emergency, before the performance of an abortion a qualified medical professional trained in sonography and working under the direct supervision of a physician licensed in the Commonwealth shall offer to perform fetal ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services on the patient undergoing the abortion for the purpose of determining gestational
That’s “offer”. You are not required to accept that offer. Nor are you required to read all of the literature they may offer you, or look at the pictures of fetal development stages, or anything else.
Which is somewhat… okay, entirely… different from the current reporting. Now, the current reporting may be based upon earlier versions of the bill, which you can also get from the virginia.gov site, but since the Slate article links to this actual web page, I would have thought reading the current text of the bill would have been a good idea.
Is this medically unnecessary? Sure.
Is the 24 hour waiting period “nanny statism”? You bet (I’m looking at you, Tea Party).
Is this obvious red meat for the culture wars? I’d say “signs point to ‘yes’.”
Should you be hugely offended by this law? I will let those affected by it make their own call, but I would be for lots of reasons.
However… are you going to be forced to have an ultrasound of any sort?
Not by my reading of the current law* and I’m hard pressed to imagine a reading that would require it. Yes.