Protecting Women, Children and Families with Ultrasound Testing Fosters Family Restoration

State legislation to protect women and children is important to family restoration. Virginia is another example of a state taking measures to insure informed consent is authentic for women choosing the dramatic decision of abortion. The current legislation on the use of ultra sound testing prior to any abortion in Virginia is an important component of comprehensive protection for women. The New York Times reports on Virginia House Bill 462 on Abortion, noting that the Virginia Senate, “which is split evenly along party lines, adopted the bill earlier this month. The bill, which could pass the Republican-led House of Delegates as early as Tuesday, is one of the stronger ultrasound laws passed by states in recent years. If it is adopted, Virginia will become the eighth state to require ultrasounds before abortions, a rule that anti-abortion forces hope will cause some women to change their minds but that women’s advocates call an effort to shame women and interfere with their privacy.” You can read the entire NY Times piece here.

The facts of the bill include:

1. That an ultrasound be done prior to an abortion, only after a woman gives consent to the abortion procedure. No woman who is merely contemplating abortion is ever forced to undergo the test – indeed, the reality is that most pregnant women would like the benefit of an ultrasound.
2. Several states already have this requirement; Virginia is not breaking any new legal ground.
3. Any sound medical practice requires the proper tests to be done. Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation state that an ultrasound is necessary to determine the age and size of the unborn child to ensure the health of the mother.
4. The ultrasound test is standard medical procedure, a fact confirmed in committee testimony by Planned Parenthood representatives.

This legislation has already passed the state Senate and needs only one more vote by the full House of Delegates before going to Governor McDonnell for his signature. Rhetorical sound bites do no justice to this issue, nor to the women, children and families that will be affected by this decision.

To see more about this pending protection, see WVEC’s report on it featuring Professor Lynne Marie Kohm.

Facts, rather than rhetoric, are critical to the protection of women, children and their families; ultrasound testing and other measures to afford women truly informed consent will foster family restoration.


  1. This is a bill in which I find myself seriously conflicted. I agree that there should be informed consent for an abortion and for any medical procedure but I am not convinced that an ultrasound will better inform the woman seeking this medical procedure than any other literature that she is given.

    Another part of this bill that bothers me greatly is the transvaginal unltrasound that the state would mandate if a heartbeat was not detectable through a regular ultrasound. Even Governor McDonnell is against this.
    He said today:
    Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

    For this reason … I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision.

    I completely agree with him that this is not the proper role for the state.

    As the opponents of the bill suggest, this could be compared to state sponsored rape because you are by state law requiring a woman to be vaginally penetrated by an object in which she would most likely never consent to if the state did not mandate it. VA Code 18.2-67.2 covers Object sexual penetration. A doctor is immune from this statute as long as there is a bona fide medical purpose. I do not see a woman who is seeking an abortion in which the heartbeat of the fetus is undetectable as a bona fide medical purpose for a transvaginal ultrasound. If a woman is there to get an abortion it is unlikely that this particular procedure will change her mind.

    I think the bill is losing ground in its current form as we speak because of the Governor's statements. And I hope that if a bill is passed requiring an ultrasound that the transvaginal procedure will be removed.

  2. When I first heard of this test, I, too, was taken aback at the potential invasive quality of it and its seeming extremity. However, a local doctor recently explained to me that transvaginal ultrasounds are frequently used for the purpose of detecting a heartbeat when not otherwise detectable, and he didn't understand why it was such an issue. These ultrasounds are not being touted as the norm; they are already a normal alternative when a heartbeat cannot be detected.

    The assumption of an ultrasound as being unlikely to change a woman's mind is not reason enough not to have this procedure when it's an established alternative to a regular ultrasound. That stance would seem to excuse women from the statutory mandate of having an ultrasound conducted. Resistance to this test is also ironic considering that almost all methods of abortion are incredibly invasive in and of themselves. Concerning consent, the ultrasound would take place post-abortion-consent. State-sponsored rape? To differentiate between the consent for one and the lack thereof for another regarding two related procedures that basically involve the same degree of "invasiveness" is an evasive tactic to ignore the purpose of all ultrasounds - to give the woman the fair opportunity to realize that what she is aborting does in fact have a heartbeat and is alive.

  3. I was shocked while learning about comparative requirements across states that many states, even if they require counseling, fail to require counseling on the negative psychological aspects of an abortion prior to a woman's decision to have one performed. Our society is so quick to harp on the notion of informed consent. Informed consent for medical procedures, informed consent when an attorney represents adverse parties, or co-parties, informed consent before you sign waiver, etc. It seems shocking to me that people are so quick to promote current abortion laws over this idea of informed consent. We mask the concept through providing some information, in some instances even counseling. But by selecting and choosing what we disclose about the procedure we are not only paving the way for more abortions to occur, but we're damaging our children and our women.I fervently believe the verse in John which proclaims that "the truth will set you free!". My hunch (albeit academically unfounded)is that if women were required to undergo extensive counseling, including the negative psychological effects for them, extensive discussions about the potential of adoption, and were to see their baby's heart beat on an ultrasound that they'd think a little harder before they decided to follow through with the procedure. I recognize that many women are in desperate circumstances, but I cannot resolve myself to the fact that the Creator of the Universe cannot redeem even the most desperate of situations. I am proud Virginia is taking a step towards providing more informed consent and hope many states will follow.