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McDonnell calls for amendments to ultrasound bill

Gov. Bob McDonnell is asking lawmakers to amend the controversial bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, to clarify that it requires only an abdominal ultrasound and would not require the invasive type of “trans-vaginal” ultrasound sometimes used.

In a statement released this afternoon as the House of Delegates prepares to vote on the bill, McDonnell said he has spent several days talking to doctors, advocacy groups, legislators and others. He still believes in the purpose of the bill, he said, but wants to ensure the state isn’t requiring such an invasive procedure.

The bill has earned Virginia national attention, not of the good kind: the Daily Show mocked the bill last night, as did Saturday Night Live last weekend. It was also one reason why more than 1,000 people came Monday to protest outside the Capitol.

Part of McDonnell’s statement is below:

“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.”

The bill is schedule for a debate and vote on the House floor today, although it has been postponed for the past two days. Especially given McDonnell’s position now, it is expected that the bill will be the subject of amendments. The version in the House is Sen. Jill Vogel’s bill, SB 484.