Amended Virginia Ultrasound Mandate Should Still be Rejected

Today, I issued the following statement on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposed amendments to the a state ultrasound bill:

Today, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell asked legislators to make a series of amendments to a bill that would require women seeking abortion care to have an ultrasound. But even with the proposed amendments, this bill is an unwarranted intrusion into medical decision making and should be rejected in its entirety.

There is no medical reason to require any type of ultrasound procedure in a state statute. The debate over this bill has clearly shown that the intent is political and not based on the medical standard of care.

The National Abortion Federation sets the standard for quality abortion care in North America through our evidence-based Clinical Policy Guidelines. Like in the rest of the medical community, our Guidelines are based on medical evidence and known patient outcomes. We do not require an ultrasound for first trimester abortion care because there is no evidence that doing so improves patient outcomes or the safety of abortion care. Abortion is already one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.

Although many of our members use ultrasound evaluation to confirm pregnancy in the first trimester, that does not mean that states like Virginia should make it mandatory. The decision about whether an ultrasound is done and by what method should be a medical decision left to the clinician and the patient. The state has no place in these decisions.

This law also has a 24-hour waiting requirement that disrespects women and will make it harder  for some women to access the abortion care they need—especially those that have difficulty scheduling more time off of work, arranging child care, or traveling to the clinic. Women carefully consider their options before they make an appointment and visit a clinic; they do not need to be subjected to a state-mandated waiting period before they can obtain abortion care.

We urge the Governor and the General Assembly to reject the ultrasound mandate in its entirety and leave medical decisions to clinicians and their patients.

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