Virginia Governor Backing Away From Full Support For Ultrasound Bill
Virginia’s Republican Governor, who is frequently mentioned as a potential Vice-Presidential running mate, is backing away from his previous unequivocal support for the mandatory ultrasound bill currently pending in the state legislature:
RICHMOND — Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is backing off his unconditional support for a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, focusing new attention on one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in Virginia’s General Assembly this year.
Until this weekend, McDonnell (R) and his aides had said the governor would sign the measure if it made it to his desk. McDonnell, who strongly opposes abortion, will no longer make that commitment.
But delegates and governor’s staff were scheduled to meet Tuesday night to strike a compromise after learning that some ultrasounds could be more invasive than first thought, according to two officials who were aware of the meeting but not authorized to speak about it publicly. Many of the bill’s supporters were apparently unaware of how invasive the procedure could be, one of the officials added.
The Virginia legislation has become part of the broader national debate over reproductive rights and has drawn attention to McDonnell, a rising star in his party and a possible vice presidential contender. The legislation has been the topic of cable news shows, was part of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and drew protesters to Richmond on Monday.
McDonnell’s office would say Tuesday only that the governor will “review” the bill if it is approved.
“Our position is: If the General Assembly passes this bill the governor will review it, in its final form, at that time,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said in a statement. He declined to explain the change in approach, but Virginia’s governors can sign, veto or amend legislation.
The House and Senate have approved their versions of the bill. On Tuesday, the House postponed a final vote on the legislation— as well as votes on other measures on guns and adoption — for the second day in a row.
“Something is happening,” Jessica Honke, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said hopefully. “It’s important for [the governor] to take a long, hard look before he actually does this.”
What’s happening, most likely, is that Virginia’s Republican leaders are talking behind the scenes about ways in which this bill could possibly be amended to take away some of the most controversial aspects that have come to light in the past week or so. That could mean adding in a provision that requires consent from the patient, or a ban on trans-vaginal ultrasounds being used. The other option is that they’re looking for a way to kill the bill completely and get this controversy behind them without completely annoying the social conservatives. In either case, the reaction from the public since this has come to light has made pretty clear that this would be a wildly unpopular move on the legislatures part, and McDonnell himself is smart enough to not want something like this hanging around his neck if and when he decides to seek higher office.