Former Virginia lawmakers announced on Monday the formation of the Women's Strike Force, a new political action committee aimed at defeating state lawmakers who have pushed for legislation to prohibit or restriction a woman's ability to terminate her pregnancy.

“The steps that have been taken by lawmakers in Virginia and states across the country to deprive women of their reproductive rights are a slap in the face to every American wife, mother, sister and daughter in our country,” former Del. Robin Abbott (D), the group's co-chair, said.

So-called “informed consent” legislation in Virginia sparked outrage because it would have required a woman to receive a trans-vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. Since most abortions are performed in the first trimester, when the fetus is too small to be viewed by an abdominal sonogram, the ultrasound image would need to be captured by inserting a probe into the vagina.

The bill would also require the ultrasound image to remain in a woman’s medical file for seven years.

After a public backlash, the legislation was revised so that it would require only non-intrusive abdominal ultrasounds.

"As a former member of the General Assembly and Virginia’s first woman in Congress, I fought for women’s rights in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s," former Del. Leslie Byrne (D) said in a statement.

"We must move the Commonwealth and the nation forward, not backslide to denying women rights."

Another bill in Virginia would have legally defined a person to include unborn children "from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development." The legislation was intended to ban abortion and to set up a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which upheld a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy until the fetus is viable outside the womb.

The bill could of had the unintended consequence of outlawing contraception, but an amendment to prevent such an occurrence was rejected by a 64 to 34 vote in the House. The bill was later shelved by the Virginia Senate, and will not be considered again until 2013.

Photo credit: Flickr user tammyotoes