Yesterday morning, the Senate Education and Health Committee, on a party line 9-5 vote (with 1 abstention) reported SB 617 to the Senate floor, a bill that would repeal the ultrasound update to the informed consent law that conservatives fought hard to pass in 2012. The bill's patrons are Senators Mame Locke (D-2, Hampton) and Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico). The full Senate will vote on the ultrasound repeal bill Tuesday. Virginia's ultrasound law allows women the opportunity to see their unborn child prior to making an irreversible, life-altering decision. While ultrasounds were already standard protocol prior to the 2012 legislation, abortion doctors were not showing the picture to their patients. This window into the womb is powerful and no matter the choice of a woman, it allows her a more informed decision and reduces regret. The ultrasound law is about requiring the abortion doctor simply to turn the screen.
Additionally, ultrasounds are medically necessary prior to an abortion. An ultrasound determines not only gestational age, but gestational position (whether the pregnancy is uterine or ectopic), viability, if a woman is actually pregnant (it's not unheard of for an abortion to be performed on a non-pregnant woman), and if there are multiples. All of these factors are critical information for the doctor to have when the abortion is performed if the safety of the woman is a priority.
However, we know that all too often, unfortunately, the safety of the woman is not the first priority of abortion doctors. An owner of two abortion centers in Virginia was found not even to have medical-malpractice insurance despite swearing otherwise under oath (see The New Yorker). Virginia Department of Health inspection reports reveal that the Roanoke Medical Center for Women performed abortions on multiple minors without parental notification or consent, in violation of Virginia law. There are countless other violations we could cite, but suffice it to say the abortion industry has proven that a woman's safety is not its priority. That is precisely why ultrasounds must be required — for a woman's safety because we cannot rely on the abortion industry to take precautions.
The Education and Health Committee also voted to report SB 618 yesterday on another party line vote (9-6). The bill, patroned by Senator Locke, would reinstate abortion funding in Virginia's federally mandated healthcare exchange. It would force taxpayers to subsidize abortions against their conscience. It will be up for final passage in the Senate on Tuesday as well.
The Virginia Senate is not the only chamber taking abortion votes. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates voted on several important measures, as well. The Courts of Justice Constitutional Law Sub-Committee voted to defeat three different attempts to repeal or water down the ultrasound law (HB 546, HB 547 and HB 1056), and a measure that would redefine birth control to include "emergency contraception" or the morning after pill (HB565,). The bills' patrons all were Democrat women: Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn, Jeion Ward and Vivian Watts.
The subcommittee also tabled by voice vote HB 98, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), a bill that would have criminalized sex-selective abortion. The committee cited various enforcement issues that they were unable to easily fix (i.e., is it fair to criminalize the doctor for the discriminatory thoughts of the mother? How do you prove the baby was aborted for sex-selective reasons?), but seemed to resonate with the concept behind the bill.
The battle for the sanctity of life is fierce in Richmond. Please be in prayer over these Senate bills. Pray that pro-life senators are courageous in their stand for life despite political pressure to the contrary. Your prayers are of great value and are much appreciated.