A Divided Voice

Slug: Social Issues

Social impact of the use of ultrasound before an abortion in Virginia.

A Divided Voice

Protests erupt outside the capitol building after Gov. Bob McDonnell passes the ultrasound bill.

By: Michael Schuster

         After protests erupted outside the state capital on Sunday afternoon in response to new legislative abortion laws, pro-choice advocates have elevated their concern over the moral legitimacy of the bill and how it will affect Virginians in the future.

            Virginia’s Republican Governor, Bob McDonnell, signed the proposed abortion bill into law on Wednesday that will require women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion. However, McDonnell and other lawmakers decided to leave out a previous mandatory provision of the bill that would have necessitated the use of a vaginal probe in some abortion cases, because of immense pressure and scrutiny from women’s groups and an array of pro-choice organizations. Subsequently, legislative officials also amended the bill to exempt the screening process mandate for women whose pregnancy was a direct result of rape or incest cases. The controversial bill introduced by the General Assembly reflects the ongoing debate over pre-natal rights and individual liberties, as well as the effectiveness of state abortion laws.

            “The new bill proposed in Virginia is just another conservative outcry to limit human liberties and choice. Women have the ultimate right to choose for themselves whether they want an abortion. It’s really just an intrusion tactic used by the government to oversee women’s private matters,” said Dr. William Fitzhugh of the Richmond Medical Center for Women.

            Pro-choice protesters gathered at the state capital in Richmond several times last week to combat the passing of the bill, resulting in the arrest of 30 protesters on Sunday for trespassing and unlawful assembly. Outraged proponents for women’s abortion rights expressed disdain for Governor McDonnell’s legislation and argued that his actions are an illustration of Republican lawmakers’ unwillingness to listen to thousands of women’s views across the state of Virginia. In addition, they disputed that the bill’s provisions were an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s personal life.

            “There’s no excuse for a bill that would require an ultrasound pre-abortion. Our society is under the discretion of political overreaching, and now it’s affecting Virginia women adversely in the way they live their lives,” said pro-choice supporter, Margaret Wilson.

            Advocates for the bill claim that the ultrasound requirements allow women the access to as much vital information as possible before finalizing an abortion decision. Furthermore, McDonnell noted that the legislation does not affect a woman’s ability to make a choice regarding her pregnancy, but rather gives women options in the child bearing process. Virginia becomes one of 23 states with a similar requirement for women to receive an ultrasound image before an abortion.

            “I think the bill is a justified and moral way for women to receive all the necessary information before going through with an abortion. The ultrasound procedure could potentially deter women from aborting fetuses and save innocent lives,” expressed pro-life activist, Allison Turner.

            As the debate over the legality and moral thoroughness of state abortion rights continue, both pro-life supporters and opponents of the legislative measures will resume to passionately speak their minds and fight diligently for their particular interests.

Reporter: Michael Schuster, schusterms@vcu.edu, (703)-909-3513

William Fitzhugh, (804)-973-9976

Margaret Wilson, MWill19560@gmail.com, (703)-445-9765

Allison Turner, ATurnab12@hotmail.com abortion pic


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