Virginia state Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) said on Wednesday that an updated bill requiring women seeking abortion to have an ultrasound causes more problems than it solves, including requiring the unnecessary procedure for women who miscarry.
In the bill's original form, every woman seeking an abortion in Virginia would have to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound screening, in which a probe is inserted deep into the vagina.
The resulting image would remain in a woman’s medical file for seven years, and any doctor who failed to perform a pre-abortion ultrasound would be liable to prosecution and fines.
But under pressure from pro-choice activists, as well as stinging ridicule from late-night television comics, Governor Bob McDonnell (R) tweaked the bill to require only non-intrusive abdominal ultrasounds.
In an emotional speech on the House floor, McClellan told lawmakers that the proposed law would still require women who had certain types of miscarriages to have an ultrasound.
"A missed miscarriage is when the embryo or fetus dies but continues to stay in the uterus," she explained. "In that miscarriage, guess what you have to do to complete it. You have to have an abortion. By specifically inserting an exception for a spontaneous miscarriage, you've excluded from the ultrasound bill the very miscarriages that don't require an abortion. By definition, you are requiring an ultrasound for the miscarriages that do. Words matter."
"Not every abortion is done in Planned Parenthood in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy," she added. "And the difference is when those procedures are done, it is because the doctor feels that it is necessary and in the best interest of the patient. It is not because people in the General Assembly, who don't have a medical degree, have decided for them."
"Yes, I talk about the tragic cases. Somebody's got to because we don't just legislate to the stereotype."
Watch this video from the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, uploaded Feb. 22, 2012.