Did Bob McDonnell cave on ultrasound abortion law?

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering

Governor Bob McDonnell today requested that the General Assembly amend the proposed Virginia bill requiring an ultrasound before having an abortion.

His decision comes after days of some pretty hysterical rhetoric from the left on "state mandated vaginal probing," should a woman choose to have an abortion.

The liberal argument suggests that since the Virginia bill requires that women must know "the gestational age" of the unborn baby, that then "requires" a specific type of ultrasound in which a wand is inserted into the vagina.

"Under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under the federal definition," wrote Slate's Dahlia Lithwick breathlessly last week.

Once liberal comedians got a hold of the issue, the situation quickly escalated.  

"Women might consider this bill a TSA patdown inside their vagina." Jon Stewart joked, ridiculing the Virginia bill.

"The Virginia House of Representatives this week passed a bill that required women to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion," joked Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live. "Now don't get me wrong, I love transvaginal. It's my favorite airline."

Meghan McCain also joined the vocal complaint about the law on Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC.

“I’m not pro-vaginal probing,” McCain said. “I feel like I have to go on television and delineate between the two things. I’m horrified by the bill as a woman, as a Republican woman, I’m horrified.”

In a clear victory for Planned Parenthood, McDonnell issued a statement on the bill insisting that as a pro-life governor, he supported the bill, but only if it was amended to exclude "mandatory vaginal ultrasounds."

Conservatives might be frustrated that McDonnell caved to the left, but his compromise is not unreasonable from the standpoint of the legislation. The bill will probably still pass, but with slightly modified language to take diffuse the left's ugly talking point. (The amended bill has already passed the Senate)

Governor Rick Perry successfully signed an ultrasound mandate bill in Texas last year that was less specific on the type of ultrasound, although critics tried to use the same argument. The fact is, according to Planned Parenthood, "ultrasounds have been a standard part of abortion services and are always performed on every patient before any type of procedure is done."

The purpose behind these laws, is attempting to make sure that all women see the results of the ultrasound, usually tucked away in a folder by the abortion doctor.

After suffering several legislative losses in 2010 and 2011, its clear that pro-choice groups are stepping up their game. Planned Parenthood scored something of a victory in the heated Komen dispute and they successfully alarmed the people of Mississippi to vote against a "personhood amendment" last November.

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