Virginia ultrasound bill causing problems for Gov. Bob McDonnell

A controversial bill involving abortions making its may through the Virginia legislature has put prospective Republican vice presidential nominee, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, in an uncomfortable spot.

The Virginia bill required ultrasounds to be performed before any abortion taking place in the state, a provision that McDonnell has supported in the past. But forcing women to have an ultrasound before an abortion would require a particularly invasive transvaginal ultrasound if it is done earlier than ten weeks into the pregnancy. Early stages of the pregnancy are when most abortions occur.

A source that wished to remain anonymous told HUMAN EVENTS about what the procedure felt like when she was experiencing mysterious abdominal pain, “The pressure is uncomfortable, bordering on painful, and I felt very discomfited through the whole thing.”

“My doctors attempted a regular ultrasound twice to try to avoid the need for a transvaginal ultrasound because of the invasiveness of it. I can definitely see why a rape survivor might have a strong reaction to that particular procedure. It’s a thousand times worse than the TSA pat-downs that have concerned people across America,” the woman said.

While McDonnell originally wanted to support the bill, which was passed on a partisan vote by Republicans in the Virginia state house, he backed off when more information became known to him.

Backing down on the legislation has caused many of McDonnell’s supporters to get angry and frustrated with his leadership, questioning whether he backs pro-life causes because he is committed to standing by them or that he just does so for political reasons.

“Abortion itself is an incredibly invasive procedure that leaves women to cope with severe physical and emotional consequences. McDonnell could state again that he wants women to have the full story one way or another — if not through this law, then by the efforts of sidewalk counselors and others — before they decide to go through with such a truly life-altering procedure,” wrote Tina Korbe, who is a blogger for

Shortly after appearing at Politico’s “State Solutions” seminar at the Newseum in Washington DC, McDonnell told reporters that much of the press have been “mischaracterizing” his position on the bill. 

Restating his commitment to “the sanctity of life,” the governor said that he discussed the initial legislation with the state attorney general and the Rutherford Institute and they “said there might be constitutional concerns with the standards before the 4th Circuit [U.S. Court of Appeals].”  McDonnell also pointed out that seven other states have a bill like Virginia’s that require ultrasounds and he felt the amended legislation was “a very good bill.” 

The Rutherford Institute, which is a right-leaning civil rights watchdog organization, wrote a letter to McDonnell, urging him to advocate changes in the bill. It said in the letter:

“Whether or not a transvaginal ultrasound is widely used or is medically necessary in order to carry out an early-stage abortion, it is completely inappropriate for the state to require that doctors carry out such invasive procedures on a woman. In doing so, physicians are reduced to no more than agents of the state and, as a result, this procedure constitutes a state-mandated violation of the woman’s body.”

McDonnell has frequently been mentioned as a top choice to be a presidential running mate for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney if the latter becomes the Republican nominee.

McDonnell’s strong association with evangelical Christians could be a boon to Romney, as Romney has had some difficulty in gaining their support. McDonnell has been an active campaigner for Romney after he endorsed him in January.

While the net effect from the legislation on McDonnell may be small politically, it could hurt his chance to be Romney’s vice presidential pick because he may appear to be too similar to Romney as a moderate who is willing to flip-flop on social issues.