Virginia voters are not happy. And with good reason.
As it turns out, Virginians are not that pleased with the legislative priorities pushed by Republicans. According to the Christopher Newport University/Richmond Times-Dispatch 55% of registered voters oppose both the transvaginal ultrasound bill and the personhood bill while only 36% support them.
And the more they hear about these bills the less they like them. Let’s start with H.B. 462, the transvaginal ultrasound bill. This bill would require every woman having an abortion undergo an ultrasound, have the chance to view the picture and hear a heartbeat. The bill doesn’t specify a transvaginal ultrasound be performed, as opposed to a traditional ultrasound, but it doesn’t have to. More than 80% of abortions occur in the first trimester and embryos in that first trimester are too small to either see or hear a heartbeat on a typical external ultrasound. Therefore, in order to comply with the law, doctors must probe a woman vaginally to get the mandated images and sound. The law makes no exceptions for rape survivors nor does it exempt women having a medication abortion in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Mandatory ultrasounds are before 22 weeks are not standard medical procedure, nor are they cheap. And since Virginia Republicans are also attacking Medicaid funding for reproductive health services, this last point is an important one.
It gets worse. The law requires the doctor to mark on the woman’s medical record whether or not she chose to look at the picture, further underscoring that this is a woman-shaming bill and nothing less.
H.B.1 would declare life and legal personhood begin “at conception” and require Virginia grant fertilized eggs all of the rights privileges and immunities persons currently hold under Virginia law. Voters in Mississippi rejected a similar measure but that hasn’t stopped Personhood USA from continuing to push these measures state-by-state as part of a strategy to criminalize most forms of birth control and square off for a showdown over Roe v. Wade.
In response throngs of protesters gathered outside the Virginia state capitol in silent protest of the bill and it worked–at least in the short-term. The House was set to vote on the ultrasound bill today but postponed the vote for at least a day. Meanwhile women’s health supporters plan a day of action for Thursday, February 23 to continue the battle against these anti-woman measures.
If Virginia voters are so strongly opposed to these bills, it begs the question of whose interests Republican legislators are serving in pushing them. Surely it’s not the interests of over half of registered voters, and it is most definitely not the interests of Virginia women either.
Photo from WikiCommons