But after years of trying, Virginia’s newly-empowered conservative legislators are on the verge of putting themselves, and the power of the state, in between a pregnant woman and her doctor.
They would require that an ultrasound examination be performed before an abortion takes place. The woman would have to be offered the chance to see the results of the examination, and her choice would be recorded and kept in a file. If she lived less than 100 miles from the ultrasound facility, she would have to wait 24 hours before having the abortion. She would only have to wait two hours if she lived farther than 100 miles.
In six other states that have such a provision, the woman must be “offered” a chance to see the result although not required to do so, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Experts agree that there’s usually no medical reason for an ultrasound in the first trimester of a pregnancy. Rather, such a requirement is a naked psychological ploy to assault the mother with feelings of guilt and play on her emotions to stop her from going not go through the procedure.
Even though abortion is legal within limits, this extra requirement would be both medieval and insulting. Not to mention sexist. Men, especially the father of the fetus, don’t have to go through the extra hurdle of having their choice of whether they decided to view the ultrasound stuck in a file somewhere.
Nonetheless, by an 8-7 vote, the Republican-controlled Education and Health Committee has endorsed the ultrasound requirement and sent it to the full Senate, where, thanks to the GOP’s refusal to share power in the evenly divided body, it is likely to pass, given Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s tie-breaking vote. Ultrasound bills are being pushed by Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) and Sen. Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke).
What’s so utterly hypocritical of many conservatives is how they pick and choose their fights. Most of the time, they are lecturing us that we need to get government and its regulations away from people’s everyday lives. We need smaller government and should leave as much as possible to personal choice.
But not when it comes to one of the most painful and personal decisions a woman can make. Swollen with their moral authority, they want to be there, dressed in a blue hospital gown beside the doctor, adding a profound guilt trip to an experience that is most times already wracked with grief. They are assuming that women (not men) are too stupid to understand what abortion is despite their right to one that is bound by the Supreme Court.
The General Assembly needs to keep its nose out of the doctors’ offices. It needs to respect the intelligence of women to make a choice that is legally theirs to make.