Abortion wars: Virginia retreats on invasive probe in ultrasound bill (+video)
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell backtracked on the bill, which could have required women seeking an abortion first to undergo an invasive procedure. Republicans scrambled to pass an amended version.
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Some Republicans across the US are pondering new laws that could help reduce the more than 1.2 million abortions per year. But controversies like the one this week in Virginia are giving Democrats, who largely support abortion rights, openings to castigate what they see as Republican hypocrisy, specifically the idea that small-government conservatives should back government intrusion into a citizen's private medical affairs.Skip to next paragraph
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On Wednesday, for example, Georgia Democrats, in response to a bill that would outlaw abortions beyond 20 weeks of gestational age, the point at which medical authorities say a fetus may be able to sense pain, proposed a satirical “antivasectomy bill” in protest.
“Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” said Rep. Yasmin Neal, author of the Democrats’ bill, in a statement. “It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States.”
Earlier this month the women's health nonprofit Susan G. Komen For the Cure reversed, under fire, a decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion as one of its services. Now, McDonnell's backpedaling in Virginia has confirmed for many Democrats that broad-based appeals on the abortion issue can fall in the favor of women's rights.
On Monday, a protest involving about 1,400 people, most of them women, formed a human cordon outside the Virginia Capitol, with some participants protesting the bill as state-mandated rape. The bill was also ridiculed on TV, most notably by “Saturday Night Live” and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart.
“This is definitely a retreat for the governor,” said state Sen. Janet Howell, who in protest proposed to amend the ultrasound bill to include a rectal exam for men wanting to be prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs. “The national spotlight and ridicule has had an impact," she told The New York Times. "The Republicans are scrambling for an out.”
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