Va. Pre-abortion Ultrasound Law Draws Swift Reaction from Nonprofit Groups

March 7, 2012; Source: Washington Post (AP)

In what Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called “an appalling and offensive government overreach,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law a bill requiring abortion providers to administer abdominal ultrasounds in all cases except where victims of rape and incest report their victimization to police.

In addition to Planned Parenthood, other women’s rights groups reacted equally harshly to the bill’s passage. According to Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, “Governor McDonnell’s unwillingness to listen to the thousands of women…who are outraged by this political overreach into their lives shows nothing more than arrogance.” She painted the Virginia law, the seventh in the nation requiring pre-abortion ultrasounds in some fashion, as the most egregious invasion of women’s privacy to date and draconian meddling into the work of medical care providers. The Women’s Strike Force (WSF) coalition issued a statement that the law “serves to demean women and subject them to a costly and unnecessary medical procedure.” WSF spokeswoman Rebecca Geller announced her organization will form a PAC to attack supporters of H.B. 462, as the bill is officially known.

Nonprofit groups on the other side of the political spectrum defended Gov. McDonnell’s signing with vigor. Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation, professed a belief that protestors are motivated by greed: “The abortion industry fears that a woman might see the unborn for what they are and make a different choice, which means less money in the industry’s coffers, and that is what opposition to the bill has always been about,” she said. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins hailed the law as a victory for women and the unborn.

The original bill had required an invasive vaginal ultrasound, a provision McDonnell forced fellow conservative legislators to remove from the bill after thunderous opposition throughout the country. But the new version did not assuage many people who support and defend abortion rights, and has in fact swelled the ranks of the movement. “We are not going to just go off quietly into the night. They just made an activist out of me,” said business consultant Molly Vick, who had joined protests at the Virginia Capitol. –Louis Altman