Va. Republicans Block Effort To Repeal Ultrasound Law

January 18, 2013 — The Virginia Senate Committee on Education and Health on Thursday rejected two measures that would have repealed a state law (HB 462) requiring women to obtain an ultrasound before an abortion, the Washington Post reports.

The first of the bills -- introduced by state Sens. Ralph Northam (D) and Barbara Favola (D) -- would have banned the state from requiring women to receive a "transabdominal ultrasound" before an abortion. The second bill would have prevented the state from requiring an ultrasound for "nonmedical reasons."

Both bills failed by an 8-7 vote.

The ultrasound law spurred controversy last year because it originally would have required women to receive a vaginal ultrasound, which is typically used in the early stages of pregnancy. The legislation was later amended to specify an external ultrasound would be used, but critics argued that such a test serves no medical purpose (Vozzella, Washington Post, 1/17).

Northam told committee members, "I am giving you the opportunity to right the wrong committed last year."

During the committee meeting, the Virginia American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Medical Society of Virginia spoke in favor of repealing the ultrasound requirement. However, Victoria Cobb, president of the antiabortion group Family Foundation of Virginia, argued that abortion providers are "hiding the picture" of the ultrasound to ensure that women go through with obtaining an abortion (Bassett, Huffington Post, 1/17).