Multiple Ultrasound Bills Offered in Va. General Assembly

January 18, 2011 — Four bills that would require ultrasounds before a woman can obtain an abortion have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly, Capital News Service/Suffolk News Herald reports.

Two bills were filed in the House of Delegates. Del. Mark Cole (R) filed HB 261, which would require that an ultrasound is performed at least 48 hours before an abortion. The legislation would require physicians to determine the gestational age and size of the fetus and file a permanent copy of the ultrasound image in the woman's medical record.

The other ultrasound bill in the House of Delegates, HB 462, was filed by Del. Kathy Byron. The bill proposes that the ultrasound be conducted at least two hours before the abortion procedure. It would require physicians to use the fetus' heartbeat to determine its gestational age.

Two similar bills were introduced in the Senate. Sen. Ralph Smith (R) filed SB 279, while Sen. Jill Vogel (R) filed SB 484. According to Bob Holsworth, a political consultant, the bills have a better chance than previous antiabortion-rights proposals of passing the Senate Education and Health Committee because Republicans now hold eight of the panel's 15 seats.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia criticized the bills in a recent blog post, saying, "Politicians should not be allowed to put their agenda in the examining room with the doctor and the patient and add yet another financial and logistical obstacle for women seeking abortion care" (Bodine, Capital News Service/Suffolk News Herald, 1/16).