Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a potential GOP vice presidential candidate, pulled his support for a controversial state bill that would require women seeking an abortion in early stages of their pregnancies to under an invasive type of ultrasound.
With the governor’s change of position, the Virginia House quickly tweaked a new version of the bill and was passed.
McDonnell, who is widely expected to be considered as a potential be running mate for the Republican ticket in 2012, still supports a requirement that pregnant women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound.
The governor issued a written statement today that he no longer believes an invasive transvaginal ultrasound is necessary for women in early stages of pregnancy who want to obtain an abortion.
“It is apparent that several amendments to the proposed legislation are needed to address various medical and legal issues which have arisen,” he said in the statement.
McDonnell opened his statement switching positions on the ultrasound bill by arguing that he opposes abortion rights.
“I am pro-life. I believe deeply in the sanctity of innocent human life and believe governments have a duty to protect human life. The more our society embraces a culture of life for all people, the better country we will have,” he said, pointing out he has supported legislation in Virginia that requires women to undergo state counseling and wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion.
The new proposal would make the rules even stricter, requiring a woman to obtain an ultrasound as well.
“It is clear that in the majority of cases, a routine external, trans-abdominal ultrasound is sufficient to meet the bills stated purpose, that is, to determine gestational age. I have come to understand that the medical practice and standard of care currently guide physicians to use other procedures to find the gestational age of the child, when abdominal ultrasounds cannot do so,” he said.
“Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure,” the statement said.
Rejecting the vaginal ultrasound requirement for some women is a complete turnaround for McDonnell. On Friday his spokesman told ABC News the governor “has said he will sign this legislation if it is passed by the General Assembly.”
The bill has sparked a outrage among abortion rights activists.
Opponents of the measure were angry about the invasiveness of the requirement and also that women would, many times, have to pay for the procedure.