Three weeks ago Virginia Senator Jill Vogel’s ultrasound bill, SB484, had passed in the Senate and was on its third (last) reading in the House, thisclose to moving from the General Assembly to pro-life Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature.
Meanwhile feminists, incited by their recent bludgeoning of Komen, had launched a campaign to defeat the bill with the histrionic (and intellectually embarrassing) claim that transvaginal ultrasounds – not mentioned in the bill but an important diagnostic tool alongside abdominal ultrasound to determine a baby’s gestational age, location of placenta, whether the baby is alive, whether the pregnancy is ectopic, and whether there is more than one baby – was equal to “forcible rape.”
Making the feminist “forcible rape” charge even more of ridiculous is that the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood requires two ultrasounds before abortions and describes vaginal ultrasounds as “feel[ing] similar to a vaginal exam” and “not painful”…
Instead, despite the fact he was term-limited, pro-life Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell “folded like a cheap tent,” in the words of World magazine, because:
McDonnell is frequently mentioned as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney, should Romney win the Republican nomination for president, and McDonnell pretty clearly decided a more favorable image with Democrats, independents, and New York comedians was more important to his political future than enthusiastic pro-life support.
The biggest political blunder came on Monday, February 20. Over the weekend McDonnell had signaled he was beginning to buckle under the pressure of relentless opposition and ridicule, “calling in legislators to ask for advice,” according to the Washington Post.
Knowing their leader was spooked, and with hundreds of protesters gathered around the capit0l, equally spooked bill proponents decided to delay the final vote on SB484 until Tuesday, when they thought a slew of other bills being voted on would buffer the outcry against SB484’s passage.
They did not realize time was their enemy – or perhaps saboteurs did.
McDonnell started calling in pro-life/pro-family groups. They begged him not to amend SB484, saying it would only destabilize the bill even more, and it was also unnecessary – surrendering to ignoramuses.
But he did. McDonnell’s people would later say an unamended bill would have failed in the House. We shall never know. SB484 ultimately passed in House on February 22 by a vote of 65-32-1 – a comfortable cushion to have risked losing a few of the weak-kneed if unamended, it seems to me.
Senator Vogel, who was left twisting in the wind, struck (cancelled) her amended bill when it came back over to the Senate. The amended House version, HB462, barely made it.
McDonnell was warned his retreat would have far-reaching ramifications. And already it has. Seven states have laws mandating ultrasounds before abortions, 20 states regulate pre-abortion ultrasounds in some way altogether, and 11 states aside from Virginia had ultrasound legislation pending. None of the aforementioned specify ultrasounds must be transvaginal.
Had McDonnell stood strong against the dishonest hysteria and used the opportunity to educate, he would have helped those other efforts. Instead he hurt them. According to the New York Times on March 2:
Pennsylvania: Ultrasound Bill Is Shelved
The State House majority leader announced on Thursday that a bill requiring ultrasounds before abortions would not be considered soon. The shift followed a national uproar over a similar proposal in Virginia, which as originally worded would have forced women to have vaginal ultrasounds.
And according to the New York Times on February 28:
In Alabama, the sponsor of a bill to strengthen an existing ultrasound requirement said on Monday that he would seek a revision softening the bill. The existing bill mandates that the screen must face the pregnant woman and requires use of the scanning method that provides the clearest image – which would mean vaginal ultrasounds in most cases….
In Idaho, senators introducing a similar ultrasound bill added language on Monday requiring use of “whichever method the physician and patient agree is best under the circumstances.”
And back to Virginia for more bad news, quoting the Daily Beast:
Then, yesterday, the Virginia Senate tabled a so-called personhood bill. It had already passed the House and been approved by a Senate committee, and was widely expected to reach McDonnell’s desk. Six Republicans, including Senate Leader Tommy Norment, joined 18 Democrats in voting to kill it.
Liberty Counsel Action, led by pro-life stalwart Mat Staver, also the Dean of the Liberty University School of Law in Virginia, didn’t mince words:
Two days after Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell reversed course on Virginia’s ultrasound legislation, the Virginia Senate voted against proceeding with personhood legislation….
Governor Bob McDonnell failed to lead in this effort to pass this common sense measure. Instead his lack of leadership, and even behind the scene opposition, helped to kill the bill.
Then there is the intangible, momentum, which McDonnell handed the other side. Whereas the pro-abortion victory (short-term, at least) over Komen could have been seen as a blip, McDonnell’s capitulation helped establish it as a trend. And he also added to the damaging meme that social issues hurt Republicans…
[First two photos via StyleWeekly.com]