Va. House Approves Ultrasound Bill, Gives Final Approval to 'Personhood' Bill

February 16, 2012 — The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday voted 63-36 to approve a bill (HB 462) that would require a woman seeking abortion care to first receive an ultrasound and have the opportunity to view and receive a copy of the image, AP/U-T San Diego reports.

Del. Charnielle Herring (D) said, "This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician" (Lewis, AP/U-T San Diego, 2/14).

The bill does not specify which type of ultrasound is required. On Monday, the House rejected an amendment that would have required a woman to give consent before undergoing a vaginal ultrasound.

"Most of us, when we think about an ultrasound, we think about what people refer to as the jelly on the belly ultrasound," amendment sponsor Del. David Englin (D) said, noting that sometimes vaginal ultrasounds are used early in pregnancy (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/13).

Del C. Todd Gilbert (R) was criticized for commenting during floor debate on the ultrasound bill that "[i]n the vast majority of these cases, these are matters of lifestyle convenience" (Kumar, "Virginia Politics," Washington Post, 2/14). Englin said, "For him to be so dismissive of women to control their reproductive decisions is shocking" (Celock, Huffington Post, 2/15). Gilbert later issued a statement to say he "regretted" his "insensitive comments" and said he "recognize[s] that few women undergo the procedure lightly" ("Virginia Politics," Washington Post, 2/14).

Also on Tuesday, lawmakers gave final approval to another bill (HB 1) that would define fertilized eggs as people.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has indicated that he would sign the ultrasound legislation, but has not taken a position on the personhood bill, according to spokesperson J. Tucker Martin (AP/U-T San Diego, 2/14).