Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said on Friday that he changed the terms of his support for a controversial GOP-sponsored mandatory ultrasound bill at the last minute this week because he didn't realize until that point that the law would require an invasive, transvaginal procedure. Instead, he and a few Republican delegates rewrote the bill to mandate regular abdominal ultrasounds before an abortion, even though they are ineffective during the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
During the amendment process, McDonnell told a Politico panel, "We realized there was [sic] different kinds of ultrasounds, so what I recommended to the General Assembly, and they adopted the other day is, let's make the requirement for an abdominal ultrasound. We found out through the medical community that in most cases if it's not sufficient, on their own they already do other kinds of ultrasounds. So I said let's make those amendments. I also got legal advice from various people that these kinds of mandatory, invasive requirements might run afoul of Fourth Amendment law."
McDonnell said he hadn't originally paid attention to the ultrasound bill because, as governor, "You're so busy advocating your agenda, you don't read every legislator's bill." But once he "realized exactly the medical and legal issues involved," he told lawmakers to make changes.
Whether McDonnell knew that there were different kinds of ultrasounds involved or not, state Sen. Barbaro Favola (D) told HuffPost that the GOP Senators knew exactly what the mandatory ultrasound bill did before they passed it, because Sen. Ralph Northam (D), a physician, explained the details of the invasive procedure on the Senate floor.
"He went through in elaborate detail the fact that this was a transvaginal procedure and made very clear to the Senate exactly what this bill required women to go through," she told HuffPost.
The House passed a version of the ultrasound bill on Wednesday that removed the requirement for the transvaginal procedure, but Democratic state lawmakers were not at all satisfied by the attempted compromise.
"Governor McDonnell's suggestions represent an absurd cop-out," Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D) said. "He still wants to force women to undergo a medical procedure. He still wants to put government in between a woman and her doctor. He still wants to replace a physician's wisdom with the judgment of politicians.”