Statement from Governor McDonnell on Ultrasound


February 22, 2012

Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Bob McDonnell


February 22, 2012
Contact: Taylor Thornley
Phone: (804) 225-4262
Email: Taylor.Thornley@Governor.Virginia.Gov 

Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on SB 484

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today regarding SB 484, a bill before the General Assembly that would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion being performed. 

“I am pro-life. I believe deeply in the sanctity of innocent human life and believe governments have a duty to protect human life. The more our society embraces a culture of life for all people, the better country we will have. Over the course of my 20-year career in elected office, I have been glad to play a leading role in putting in place common-sense policies that protect and defend innocent human life in the Commonwealth. One of those bills was Virginia’s informed consent statute, of which I was the chief patron in the House of Delegates, finally seeing its passage in 2001. This session, the General Assembly is now considering amending this informed consent statute to include a requirement that any woman seeking an abortion receive an ultrasound in order to establish the gestational age for appropriate medical purposes, and to offer a woman the opportunity to voluntarily review that ultrasound prior to giving her legal informed consent to abortion. 

Over the past days I have discussed the specific language of the proposed legislation with other governors, physicians, attorneys, legislators, advocacy groups, and citizens. It is apparent that several amendments to the proposed legislation are needed to address various medical and legal issues which have arisen. It is clear that in the majority of cases, a routine external, transabdominal ultrasound is sufficient to meet the bills stated purpose, that is, to determine gestational age. I have come to understand that the medical practice and standard of care currently guide physicians to use other procedures to find the gestational age of the child, when abdominal ultrasounds cannot do so. Determining gestational age is essential for legal reasons, to know the trimester of the pregnancy in order to comply with the law, and for medical reasons as well. 

Thus, having looked at the current proposal, I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done. Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure. 

For this reason, I have recommended to the General Assembly a series of amendments to this bill. I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision. 

I have requested other amendments that help clarify the purposes of the bill and reflect a better understanding of prevailing medical practices. It is my hope that the members of the General Assembly will act favorably upon these recommendations from our office. We will await their action prior to making any further comments on this matter.”

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8 Responses to “Statement from Governor McDonnell on Ultrasound”

  1. Richard S. Rothermel says:

    I agree with the Governor’s reasoning on this issue.

  2. Karen Barnes says:

    Thank you, Governor McDonnell for calling for a clarifying amendment to SB 484. I recognize that transvaginal ultrasound exams are the standard of care in the first trimester to accurately diagnosis the gestational age of a baby. I also agree that no woman should be forced by law to have a transvaginal ultrasound exam. I work in a pregnancy resource center and do transvaginal ultrasound exams as a routine for first trimester pregnant women with their consent. Most women will consent to this exam when it is explained to them that this transvaginal exam is more accurate in the early months of pregnancy than the transabdominal ultrasound exam. Karen Barnes RN Nurse Manager of the Pregnancy Resource Center of the New River Valley

  3. Javier Santillan says:

    If we are to believe in the sanctity of life why do we execute people. We should be consistent. The reason women have abortions is because they cannot take care of the child or are not fit parents. Provide an economic incentive for them to have the child and put it up for adoption or provide sufficient funds for the mother to care for the child and have her educated. Drug addicted mothers should loose their right to keep their children until they are clean for an appropriate time (like 1 year).

  4. D'Arcy McGreer says:

    The governors concern is if the medical procedure is invasive or not. He is against a medical procedure if it is invasive. His reasoning is faulty. What should be his concern is the health of the woman and the health of the woman after an abortion is performed. If an invasive procedure is the only way or the best way to make sure the health of the woman is protected, then he should not be concerned about whether a medical procedure is invasive or not.

  5. William Becker says:

    I am uncertain about the rationale for objecting to an “invasive procedure” which may result in the prevention of a far more invasive and homicidal procedure. Why would anyone object to the diagnostic precursor designed to ascertain viability or gestational term and at the same time welcome the burning, crushing, scraping required to terminate the pregnancy in the womb??? Is this merely the control of the abortion industry or the complicity of the largely Democratic opposition exerting its influence? God help us.

  6. Debbie says:

    I am very disappointed in the Governor. This bill would have, and should have, easily passed without an amendment. He could have waited until it was on his desk, at least, so it would not have to go back to the Committee and the Senate for further votes. The women who are considering abortion need this legislation. Many are living with deep regret because of past abortions, because they were not fully informed. I think the Governor let them down.

  7. Jim Vass says:

    How well we have learned to accept all the new terms/words used to describe things like, killing, we say abortion. Most take offense when pictures of aborted babies are made visible; horror yes, not offense. Truth, as horrible as it may be, is more offen than not what is needed to bring about change. It seems there are at least a few who do not want truth, just convenience. Over 50 million children have been killed in abortion facilities which are supporting a $50 billion a year business. I guess we prove/confirm that big business is difficult to oppose. We just need some morally strong men and women of character in leadership who will stand firm. The few we have can’t do it alone.

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