Virginia's Ultrasound Law Would Require Forcible Penetration for Women Seeking Abortions

Have you heard about Virginia's new rapey abortion bill? On Monday, the state legislature passed a bill that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before going through with an abortion.

The requirement sounds harmless enough, until you consider what else is implicit to the process: For abortions that occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the ultrasound includes a "transvaginal procedure," in which women are penetrated by a probe to achieve proper images, but not for any medical reason. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the bill.

As others have pointed out, though, the bill essentially represents what Andy Kopsa calls "state sanctioned rape." As it stands, the ultrasound requirement seems like an attempt to make women second-guess their choice, based on an image on a screen, and to officially shame them for the procedure. From Slate's Dahlia Lithwick:

What's more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attention would ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn't "avail herself of the opportunity" to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman's medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria, proposed an amendment to the bill that would have required patients' written consent for the probe; it failed on a 64-34 vote on Monday. Englin, to his credit, has spoken out against the invasive bill from the start, but he's going against a rather dedicated group. During Tuesday's House debate, Republican State Del. Todd Gilbert reportedly argued that because the "vast majority" of abortions are "matters of lifestyle convenience," it is "right and proper for a woman to be fully informed about what she is doing."

Even if it requires sexual assault.

[Slate/RH Reality Check, Image via Shutterstock]