An Assault on Women’s Health: Virginia Passes Controversial Anti-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

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(Steve Helber/AP)

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) has signed into law a controversial bill that mandates ultrasounds for women seeking abortion in the state of Virginia, except for victims of rape or incest if the crime has been reported. Senator Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk), one of only four physicians in the Virginia Senate, has called the law “a tremendous assault on women’s health care and a tremendous insult to physicians.

Not only does this law violate women’s right to control their bodies, but it also infringes upon doctor-patient relations. The law violates guidelines adopted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, which discourage the use of obstetric ultrasounds for non-medical purposes, stating:

“The use of either two-dimensional or three-dimensional ultrasound to only view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus or determine fetal gender without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice.”

Though the Virginia ultrasound bill has recently dominated national discourse surrounding abortion laws, it only part of a wave of highly contested anti-abortion legislation that seek to limit the right of women to choose.

Almost 40 years after Roe v. Wade, state and federal restrictions on abortion continue to dominate national discourse and shape national politics. I call upon organizations committed to protecting women’s health to challenge the Virginia anti-abortion legislation and similar state legislation in the courts. It is also up to individual citizens to exercise their right to vote for political candidates who are dedicated to guarding women’s right to make their own health care decisions.

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One Response to “An Assault on Women’s Health: Virginia Passes Controversial Anti-Abortion Ultrasound Bill”

  1. carolyneclark Says:

    This seemingly never-ending battle to chip away at women’s rights infuriates me. Politicians latch onto this issue in election years because they know that even if the rest of their platform is weak, they can collect right-wing votes this way.

    In public health, one of our mantras for disease is that PREVENTION is better than CURE. This principle actually could apply to many issues, including abortion. A tiny fraction of abortions are done because of incest/rape or medical reasons, but the majority of abortions are “elective”–because the women does not feel she is able (psychologically, emotionally, financially, etc) to raise a child. I think both the right and the left can agree that what we all really want to see is a future with no more of these unwanted pregnancies.

    So, how do you prevent unwanted pregnancy? Well, one way NOT to do it is to pretend that people (especially young people) don’t have sex! This hide-your-head-in-the-sand mentality will never solve any problems. Neither will denying people easy access to contraceptives. We need to seriously ramp up our sex-education program in this country and other prevention programs targeted at high-risk groups. Making sex a taboo subject between adolescents, parents, and educators only encourages risky behavior. I know that teenage girls are not the only ones who get abortions, but if responsible sexual behavior is established during youth, a woman will be more likely to protect herself throughout her reproductive years.

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