The Virginia Senate passed legislation on Feb. 1 requiring a woman seeking an abortion to first obtain an ultrasound image of her unborn child.
Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Jill Vogel said the legislation will help keep women informed about their health and will bring current laws “in line with current reproductive technology.”
“It is critical that a woman have the opportunity to have the ultrasound because the ultrasound can lead to information that would save your life or, at a minimum, have an impact on the outcome of the procedure,” she told the Northern Virginia Daily.
The legislation passed by a 21-18 vote, with two Democrats voting in favor and one Republican voting against. It now heads to the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold two-thirds of the seats.
The bill requires medical professionals who perform the ultrasounds to get a written certification from a pregnant woman that she was offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound image and whether or not the woman chose to see the image or hear the fetal heartbeat.
The facility where the abortion is performed must maintain a copy of the ultrasound and must have written certification in the patient’s medical records.
Vogel added that the measure will also notify abortionists as to how far along a pregnancy is. She gave the example of a doctor who lost his license after performing an abortion on a woman whom he thought to be 12 weeks pregnant but in fact was 26 weeks into pregnancy.
Although groups such as the Virginia Catholic Conference are supporting the initiative, opponents like local Democratic Sen. Janet Howell say the bill puts government regulation “between a woman and her doctor,” The Washington Post reported.
Victoria Cobb, however, who serves as president of the pro-life Family Foundation, said her organization is “pleased to see we’re getting a fair hearing” and happy to see more sympathetic members of the Senate.
In previous years, similar proposals passed in the House but died in the Senate, where Democrats and some Republicans had stacked committees to ensure the bills never reached the floor.
A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the governor supports the bill.
The proposed legislation also requires a waiting period of 24 hours for women who live within 100 miles of their abortionist, except in emergencies. Those who live more than 100 miles away would have to wait for two hours.