State Senate Approves Mandatory Ultrasound Bill, But Many Other Victories for Women's Rights this Session

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
February 28, 2012 12:00 am

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12 of 13 Bills Introduced To Restrict Reproductive Freedom Defeated This Legislative Session

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Richmond, VA -In a blow to reproductive rights, the Senate today voted to approve House Bill 462, which mandates that women have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. The narrow approval of this bill mars an otherwise victorious session in which all of the other bills introduced aimed at undermining reproductive rights were defeated.

“With the passage of House Bill 462, politicians have stepped into the examining room and inserted themselves in one of the most personal, private medical decisions, for reasons that have nothing to do with health care and everything to do with politics,” said Katherine Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights project at the ACLU of Virginia. “Health care decisions are best made by individuals and their medical providers, not politicians.”

HB 462 is an egregious intrusion in to the doctor-patient relationship and places undue burdens on women seeking legal and safe abortion care. A physician and patient, working together, are the best judges of which procedures are medically necessary. Mandatory ultrasound is simply a delay tactic that imposes additional costs and prolongs a woman’s access to a procedure.

“This session saw an increase in the number of bills restricting reproductive freedom – from 8 bills introduced last year to 13 bills introduced this year,” added Greenier. “A number of new bills introduced this year, not seen in prior years, showcase the increasing efforts of anti-choice legislators to restrict abortion access in a variety of ways.”

Earlier today, the Senate Finance Committee voted to pass by indefinitely HB 62. House Bill 62 repealed abortion coverage for low-income women when a physician certifies in writing that the fetus has a totally incapacitating physical or mental anomaly.

“HB 62 denied poor women access to safe care, for no other reason than their poverty,” said Greenier. “Every woman’s situation is different and many things can go wrong in a pregnancy. No woman plans to have an abortion, but if she needs one, every woman deserves the opportunity to make the best decision for her circumstances. HB 62’s denial of financial assistance for safe and sometimes critical care would exacerbate the crisis for those women who decide they want to terminate the pregnancy.”

Other bills defeated this session include HB 1, granting fertilized eggs the same rights, privileges, and immunities, as people, and HB 1285 and SB 637, blatantly unconstitutional companion bills that banned abortion after 20 weeks gestational age. Bills banning or restricting insurance coverage of abortion care were also defeated. The ACLU of Virginia now urges the Governor to veto HB 462.

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