The Washington Post

The Virginia Senate’s absurd fetal positions

This is a protest, not a reenactment, actually. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via Associated Press)

The news that the Virginia Senate had passed a modified version of the mandatory-ultrasound bill made me want to curl up in the fetal position. But I didn’t want to have to deal with all the paparazzi and state legislators asking about my voting priorities.

The Senate approved, by a margin of 21 to 19, a modified version of a much-mocked bill that requires women seeking abortions to undergo mandatory ultrasounds. After pressure from Virginia’s governor, sick of being mocked by the national media for the measure’s requirement of “trans-vaginal” probing, the bill now carves out an exception for women who have reported to law enforcement that they were victims of incest or rape. But it makes no such exception for women aware that their fetuses suffer from birth defects, and —

Frankly, I’m frustrated that we’re parsing and discussing this.

When I first heard that this was a legislative priority in Virginia, I was excited. “Hurray,” I thought. “The state has no problems and has finally gotten enough spare time to dig up old policy questions from the 1950s. Otherwise, this is a costly, retrograde distraction.”

Of course it’s the latter.

I expected more from Virginia. It used to be full of good ideas. The Declaration of Independence. “Virginia Is For Lovers.” Colonial Williamsburg. What happened? Is it going to be restricted to passing these absurd bills and hosting Civil War reenactments? Maybe there’s something in the water that makes it seem like a good idea to refight decades-old battles as though nothing more important were going on.

Look, I am not one of those rabid pro-choicers you hear about. If I bite you, you don’t foam at the mouth and join NARAL. This isn’t my number-one issue. In fact, I might go a bit farther and say that the only people who think the contents of strangers’ wombs are the number-one issue right now just passed that bill.

Most Americans make it through their days without obsessing about the conceptions of strangers. But suddenly, you arrive at a statehouse, and it’s all you can think about. How does this happen? What strange obsession seizes all legislators so they feel compelled to assert their control over other people’s bodies and mandate which procedures are necessary and which are not? Isn’t this a strange position for people so opposed to mandatory health-care coverage?

Whenever someone comes up to me and starts expressing strong opinions as to what I should be doing with my womb, I generally throw a drink at him and leave the establishment. The voters of Virginia should be so lucky.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Don’t be ‘that’ sports parent | On Parenting
Miss Manners: The technology's changed, but the rules are the same
A flood of refugees from Syria but only a trickle to America
Play Videos
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
Kids share best advice from mom
Using Fitbit to help kids lose weight
Play Videos
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
Transgender swimmer now on Harvard men's team
Portland's most important meal of the day
Play Videos
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
The signature drink of New Orleans