Analysis

Virginia's new abortion law: 'State-sanctioned rape'?

Gov. Bob McDonnell is on the cusp of signing an unpopular bill that would force many women to undergo an invasive sonogram before getting an abortion

Virginia's Republican-controlled state legislature is expected to send Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) a controversial bill this week that would require all women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, in an apparent effort to reduce abortions by offering pregnant women the chance to see the fetus and hear its heartbeat before aborting it. McDonnell is expected to sign the bill into law, despite its lack of popularity. Fifty-five percent of Virginians oppose the bill and 36 percent support it in a new Richmond Times-Dispatch poll, and hundreds of female opponents silently protested in Virginia on Monday. Critics say the bill is worrisome in part because the only way to do an ultrasound early in pregnancy is by inserting a probe into a woman's vagina. "Let's start calling this what it really is: State-sanctioned rape," says Andy Kopsa at RH Reality Check. Is this hyperbole by abortion-rights advocates?

Rape is an accurate description: Because the vast majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, this unconstitutional "abomination" of a law requires a transvaginal ultrasound for most women who want an abortion, says Dahlia Lithwick at Slate. Here's what that means: "A probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced," for no medical reason. It's hard to see how that doesn't "constitute rape under state law."
"Virginia's proposed ultrasound law is an abomination"

Don't insult rape victims: The Left is waging a "preposterous attack" on this bill, and doing "an enormous injustice to true rape victims," says Tina Korbe at Hot Air. Transvaginal sonograms will be more rare than critics allege, and even then, how are they like rape? It's not as if "an ultrasound is in any way sexual." And unlike rape, ultrasounds have "no real risk of negative consequences — like emotional trauma or STDs." This bill would just give women the information they need before making the serious and sometimes traumatic choice to have an abortion.
"The Left's outrageous outrage at a proposal to require ultrasounds before abortion"

This law isn't just "ugly," but futile: Virginia women who opt for abortion have already gone through state-mandated counseling, says the Staunton, Va., News Leader in an editorial. And having made their hard choice, a sonogram won't change their mind. "So what is left after this medically unnecessary probe... is an even more emotionally distraught Virginian left to try to recover and go on with her life." Abortion is divisive, but it's legal. Women shouldn't become collateral damage in anti-abortion lawmakers' "methodically angry attempt to thwart a law they don't like."
"Virginia abortion bills denigrate all women"

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