New Law Would Require Ultrasound Before Abortion

January 29th, 2012 by Michael Bodine, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A bill requiring a woman to get an ultrasound before having an abortion has cleared a crucial committee and been sent to the Senate floor for a vote next week.

All eight Republicans on the Senate Education and Health Committee voted in favor of the measure, Senate Bill 484, which was sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester. All seven Democrats on the panel voted against it.

After Thursday’s 8-7 vote, the proposal will be considered by the full Senate on Monday.

SB 484 says that before a pregnant woman gets an abortion, an ultrasound exam must be performed and the woman must have an opportunity to view the sonogram image of her fetus and hear the fetal heartbeat.

Want to learn more?

To track or comment on Senate Bill 484, click here to visit the Richmond Sunlight website.

“Twenty other states have done it. I think you’ll ultimately find that most states will do it. It passes with a huge amount of bipartisan support,” Vogel said. “Almost 60 percent of women support it. … Why wouldn’t you want to be more educated about the procedure you’re going to undertake?”

Opponents say the proposed law would interfere with a woman’s right to have an abortion and with the doctor-patient relationship.

“It’s a major step back for women’s health issues,” said Sen. Ralph Northam of Norfolk, a doctor. “I’m also concerned as a provider that this is the government getting in our business and telling us how we should practice medicine.”

Northam, a professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, was among the seven Democrats on the Senate Education and Health Committee who opposed SB 484.

Historically, Democrats have controlled that committee and the Senate as a whole and have been able to stop many bills they saw as attacks on abortion rights. This year, the Senate is split 20-20 between Democrats and Republicans, and Republicans have a one-vote advantage on the Senate Education and Health Committee – which was all they needed to advance the bill.

Four bills before the General Assembly this year would mandate an ultrasound before an abortion. Sen. Ralph K. Smith, R-Salem, a member of the Education and Health Committee, proposed such legislation – SB 279. It was incorporated into Vogel’s bill before the committee’s vote.

Two Republican delegates – Mark Cole of Fredericksburg and Kathy Byron of Lynchburg – also are sponsoring ultrasound measures: House Bill 261 and HB 462. Such legislation is likely to pass the House, which is dominated by Republicans.

Northam said he believes that a sonogram requirement would make it more difficult for a woman to obtain what is a legally available procedure.

“It severely and significantly affects the provider-patient relationship,” Northam said. “That is a decision that should be between the physician and the patient, and the government should have nothing to do with it.”

Vogel said that the purpose of her bill is informed consent and that she does not want the legislation to get tangled up in the debate over abortion.

Currently, women seeking an abortion have the option to get an ultrasound.
Under SB 484, an ultrasound would be required to determine the gestational age of the fetus. The medical professional who performs the sonogram exam would have to get “written certification … whether the woman availed herself of the opportunity to see the ultrasound image or hear the fetal heartbeat.”

Vogel said she believes that the bill will draw enough bipartisan support in the Senate to pass and that it eventually will go to Gov. Bob McDonnell to be signed into law.

Northam reluctantly agreed.

“I would predict, and I can certainly never be in a position to speak for my fellow senators, but it will prevail on the floor in, I would say, probably like a 22-18 vote – in that ballpark,” Northam said.

The Family Foundation of Virginia, which opposes abortion rights, hailed Thursday’s vote as “the first passage of a substantial pro-life bill through the Senate Education and Health Committee in nine years.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, which supports abortion rights, said the bill “invades the doctor-patient relationship and forces a patient to undergo and pay for, in some cases, a procedure that may not be medically relevant or necessary.”

27 Responses to New Law Would Require Ultrasound Before Abortion

  1. Citizen

    January 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Another example of hypocritical GOP over-reach. They say they want less government regulation, yet they advocate for personal intrusions like these? While roads, bridges, and schools are crumbling?? What sort of priorities are these? Vote ‘em all out!

  2. Terence

    January 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I can see both sides. I don’t like government involvement, but I also am concerned that perhaps well meaning but still biased adults (like the abortion provider) advise the 16 year old just what it is she is carrying in her womb. Let her decide with visual and audio input – that is informed consent. As to cost [$50.00 cash], this is a decision that will impact the rest of her life. It is worth the investment to make a sound decision.

  3. human being

    January 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    How can you compare a viable (this is my view so please respect that) life to a road?? I am not going to argue abortion because that is such a personal view, but really how can you even compare? What has one to do with the other?
    Why are pro-abortionist so intent on hiding the facts what are they so afraid of. If a woman after seing an ultrasound still wants to go through wit it, then she has all the facts and should have nothing to regret, right? But if she doesn’t go through with it is her choice as well!!!

  4. SocraticThinker

    January 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    After soooo much personally listening and pondering on this subject, for years, I HAVE respectfully arrived at the conclusion that this new bill, now, WILL finally give a ‘voice’ to all unborn HUMANS, period!

  5. Leonard

    January 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    You right wing nuts who don’t believe in governmental involvement in your lives are willing to have it tell women what to do with theirs.

  6. Durkheim

    January 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    [quote name="Terence"]I can see both
    perhaps well meaning but still biased adults (like the abortion provider) advise the 16 year old just what it is she is carrying in her womb. Let her decide with visual and audio input – that is informed consent.unquote
    This line of reasoning is despicable to women and has nothing to do with informed consent. The intent of this bill is to take away women’s freedom over their own bodies. It diminishes all women to the level of a naive, uninformed 16 yr old. It assumes all women to be incapable of making decisions about their own bodies. “Biased abortion providers” will sway these impressionable women and must be prevented from doing so by our highly qualified legislators who are, of course, unbiased.
    And please do not further insult a woman by suggesting she is ignorant of “what she carries in her womb”! Abortion is a deeply personal and heart-wrenching decision for most women.
    Less government? Really?

  7. Just Fair

    January 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Just to be fair, make the sperm donor view a video of first 18 years of a child raised by single mom and sign off on commitment to unborn.

  8. Right to Privacy

    January 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Get the government out of my doctor’s office! Such hypocrisy by the right wing.

  9. Terence

    January 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    The vitriol of (the left?) is its own critic. Including the many thumbs up. Can we discuss ideas and not angry opinions on the other’s mental state or motivation?
    ‘hypocritical GOP’ ‘Right wing nuts’.

  10. AMRD

    January 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I don’t believe anyone is “pro-abortion” and greatly resent the label. A pregnant woman is ultimately the one who must bear the responsibility of her decision, whether it be to end a life not viable outside of her uterus, or to make the brave choice to move forward and be a parent. This decision should be made by her with as much medical information as possible. Regulating how this information is delivered seems to me an overreach, and anti-choice.

  11. Becca

    January 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Yet another attempt to intimidate women, limiting access to a legal proceduere. Funny how the epithet “activist judges” is used by Republicans to define judges whose verdicts they disagree with, when the reality is that we have activist lawmakers, and an extremely activist attorney general riding roughshod on individual rights. Virginians will not put up with state government’s attempts to trample on our rights and liberties for much longer.

  12. human being

    January 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Obviously, the pro-abortionist must resort to personal attacks, even if I do not agree with your views I respect your opinion.
    Maybe we have gotten away from morality and traditional values. We should think about teaching our children (boys and girls) about responsibility and that there are consequences to our actions…that being said I know this is going to spark another controversy!! :) So be it I have a right to have an opinion and I am not a right wing nut. I believe in accountability and responsibility and I teach my children that. If they make a mistake I hope they will know better to own up to it and I will be there to support their decisions and trials.

  13. human being

    January 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    [quote name="SocraticThinker"]After soooo much personally listening and pondering on this subject, for years, I HAVE respectfully arrived at the conclusion that this new bill, now, WILL finally give a ‘voice’ to all unborn HUMANS, period![/quote]
    Thank you!! It is just not convenient to think of an embryo as a human being, it would make it too real and harder to deal with. That is why pro-abortionist are opposing this!!

  14. Really

    January 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    the very group offended that reproductive services/contraception are required in national health care as inteferign with women’s rights think a mandatory sonogram is a necessity. In fact there is some medical evidence that sonsogram does some harm to a normally developing fetus and increases abortion because of the early and often inaccurate identification of birth defects.

    Let women and doctors decide on the use of contraception and other reporductive services so abortions become rarem legal and safe.

  15. Pro-choice

    January 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    If the “pro-lifers” (who always seems to be heavy in the men department) put as much energy into getting the fathers of unplanned pregnancies to own up to their resposibilties then maybe there would be less fear of taking on a life and raising it in poverty. I have far too many female friends that are saddled with the economic stress of raising a baby that “Dad” has walked out on. Real easy to do when you aren’t the one having to go through a pregnanacy and birth to commit you to a newborn.

  16. Shopper

    January 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I don’t want the gov’t making decisions that are between my physician and myself. Women should have the right to take care of their medical concerns w/o someone in Richmond or any place else getting involved.

  17. Mom of 2

    January 30, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Perhaps ultrasound equipment has improved, but I thought the heartbeat couldn’t be heard until around week 12 or 13. Wouldn’t forcing the woman to wait that long make the procedure more difficult? Three months of morning sickness to make a decision she has already decided upon.

  18. Mom

    January 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I am surprised – I would have thought the doctor would need to know the age of the fetus as i thought ‘we had all decided ‘ that aborting past a certain point is murder. (i.e. you can’t abort in your 9th month of pregnancy right?.). So many women regret deciding to abort after the deed… An ultrasound not only provides important information for the doctors but will help the mom make her decision, whether she knows it or not at the time. I personally would appreciate being given all of the important information up front before making a decision I might regret for the rest of my life. Wouldn’t you?

  19. Que

    January 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    This is ridiculous……the govt will pay for this unecessary procedure but in many cases employers are not required to provide birth control as an option in their employee health coverage. I worked for an employer that had majority female employees offered medical benefits but birth control was not covered.

    What is the point in this ultrasound before abortion other than to scare the woman into not having it.

    I am Pro Choice and do not want abortions to be used as an easy form of birth control but I as a tax payer don’t want to keep paying for all of these kids being had and abused either.

  20. Que dice

    January 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Just how expensive is common sense?

    Employers do not need to pay for something Mother Nature provides all by her little lonesome for FREE

    If you aren’t willing to vote NO, simply ABSTAIN

    How much does this cost?

    Furthermore, what other surgical procedures are performed without some form of non-invasive acts?

    Let’s OCCUPY some reality for a change folks

    STOP THIS MADNESS! Attempt some honesty!

  21. burger

    January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    The Left wing, socialist nuts, would have you believe that a womans right to murder is ok. One of the Ten Commandments is thou shalt not kill, did you libs forget that, or did you skip religion all together?

  22. carla

    January 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    [quote name="Pro-choice"]If the “pro-lifers” (who always seems to be heavy in the men department) put as much energy into getting the fathers of unplanned pregnancies to own up to their resposibilties then maybe there would be less fear of taking on a life and raising it in poverty. I have far too many female friends that are saddled with the economic stress of raising a baby that “Dad” has walked out on. Real easy to do when you aren’t the one having to go through a pregnanacy and birth to commit you to a newborn.[/quote]
    [quote name="Mom"]I am surprised – I would have thought the doctor would need to know the age of the fetus as i thought ‘we had all decided ‘ that aborting past a certain point is murder. (i.e. you can’t abort in your 9th month of pregnancy right?.). So many women regret deciding to abort after the deed… An ultrasound not only provides important information for the doctors but will help the mom make her decision, whether she knows it or not at the time. I personally would appreciate being given all of the important information up front before making a decision I might regret for the rest of my life. Wouldn’t you?[/quote]

    My thoughts exactly!! Babies heartbeat can often be detected at 9 weeks. and for those who said this is a mans view, well I am a mom of 2 children.

  23. Pro-choice

    January 30, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    To Carla. I never called you a man. I was making an obervation to what I see when I see a pro-life demostartions. I stand by what I said that maybe if more energy was put into educating the Dads that are likely to go deadbeat then maybe going through an unplanned pregnancy would be alot less scary. The tactics that are thrown out there by law-maker, forcing sonograms on women, still lands the emotional burden and trauma onto women. It is a heck of alot easier to be a sperm donor then it is to carry the pregnancy. Just go to Florida and see how many sperm donors are living there.

  24. Terence

    January 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Devil’s advocate argument:

    The law requires the father to pay child support for 18 years if the women chooses to continue pregancy. If the fetus in not a person, but rather a potential future life; shouldn’t the father be released from his potential child support obligation if his vote is for abortion but the women insists on continuing the pregnancy to term?

  25. Pro-choice

    January 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    To Terence- obviously men can’t force women to put their bodies through an abortion but they do have the option to give up parental rights through the court system. To be honest I am not sure what that procedure involves or what the expense is but if they feel that strongly that being a parent isn’t the right thing for themselves at that time he can give up all rights to the baby. I don’t know if your identity can be hid like a closed adoption. I think it should be though if the man is giving up parental rights. There might be alot of holes in this thinking but to my laymans mind it seems to make sense.
    My question would be though, if the man is going to give up parental right through the court system, does he have to listen to the heartbeat and see a sonogram before legal action is taken?

  26. Terence

    January 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    To Pro Choice: Giving up parental rights does not get the male sex partner off the hook. By law, the biological father is required to pay child support (unless the child is adopted or the mother agrees).

  27. Que

    January 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    If the man wants no part in the baby he created and wants to give up his parental rights then he should have thought of that BEFORE the woman became pregnant and used protection….wrap it up! It took 2 to create that baby and it looks the man gets off much easier than the female.

    [quote name="Pro-choice"]To Terence- obviously men can’t force women to put their bodies through an abortion but they do have the option to give up parental rights through the court system. To be honest I am not sure what that procedure involves or what the expense is but if they feel that strongly that being a parent isn’t the right thing for themselves at that time he can give up all rights to the baby. I don’t know if your identity can be hid like a closed adoption. I think it should be though if the man is giving up parental rights. There might be alot of holes in this thinking but to my laymans mind it seems to make sense.
    My question would be though, if the man is going to give up parental right through the court system, does he have to listen to the heartbeat and see a sonogram before legal action is taken?[/quote]

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