Virginia becomes 8th state to require ultrasound prior to abortion

Richmond, VA – Governor Bob McDonnell today signed into law House Bill 462, which requires women to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion and to be offered an opportunity to view the resulting image.  Virginia is the eighth state in the nation to adopt this law.
“We are deeply disappointed the Governor has signed a bill inserting the government between women and their physicians in one of the most personal, private medical decisions anyone can make,” said Katherine Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU of Virginia.  “It is particularly troubling that the law has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with politics.”
The ultrasound law places undue burdens on women seeking legal and safe abortion care by requiring women who live fewer than 100 miles from the facility where the abortion will take place to wait 24 hours after the ultrasound to obtain the abortion.  Mandatory ultrasound is simply a delaying tactic that imposes additional costs and unnecessarily prolongs a medical procedure.
“Elected officials have just told every woman and her physician in Virginia that they know what’s best for them,” added Greenier.  “This is just another point in a dangerous trend in which politicians have ignored accepted medical advice to control women’s access to health care.”
Last year, the state assembly passed a TRAP, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, law that called for unnecessarily strict and costly requirements of facilities that conduct five or more first-trimester abortions per month.  During the regulatory process, the Board of Health rejected the advice of a panel of medical experts convened by the Department of Health and imposed irrelevant and burdensome requirements. These requirements have nothing to do with the safe delivery of health services, but everything to do with ultimately limiting access to women’s medical care.
This year’s General Assembly session saw an increased number of bills restricting reproductive freedom.  Among the thirteen anti-choice bills introduced were HB 1, granting fertilized eggs the same rights, privileges, and immunities, as people; HB 1285 and SB 637, blatantly unconstitutional companion bills that banned abortion after 20 weeks gestational age; and bills banning or restricting insurance coverage of abortion care.

ACLU of Virginia Contacts: Katherine Greenier, Patricia M. Arnold Women's Rights Project Director Kent Willis, Executive Director 804-644-8022