No. 5: Controversial bill on abortion draws mass protests in Richmond
WINCHESTER — It drew massive protests at the Capitol in Richmond, was lampooned on national comedy shows, and may have derailed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s vice presidential aspirations.
A bill introduced in the General Assembly this year by Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, called for a woman considering an abortion to be offered a chance to view an image of the fetus and to determine the gestation age with ultrasound imaging.
It did not, however, define what type of ultrasound would be required. And during a pregnancy’s first trimester, it can be difficult to obtain the gestation age without a transvaginal ultrasound, setting off a firestorm of controversy.
Support for such a provision — which in some cases would have required a transvaginal ultrasound — eroded, and instead a woman must now be offered one but is allowed to refuse.
In March, shortly after the General Assembly session ended, Vogel said she was “shocked” by the outcry the bill caused and said she thought the legislation would be valuable because it would give women “additional information.”
Before introducing the bill, Vogel said she was under the impression that ultrasounds prior to an abortion were the norm and said that 23 states had laws similar to the one she proposed.
According to the nonprofit, non-partisan Guttmacher Institute, as of Dec. 1, only two states — Texas and Louisiana — require an abortion provider to perform an ultrasound and display and describe it to the woman, but she is allowed to look away. In six states, including Virginia, an abdominal ultrasound is required and the provider is required to offer the woman a chance to view the image.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com