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Forced Ultrasounds in Effect in Virginia
As Virginia women’s health centers open their doors today, many doctors and patients will be faced with a new law that forces them to conduct and undergo ultrasounds 24-hours before providing and receiving an abortion. This is the first time the General Assembly has mandated a diagnostic test that supersedes a doctor’s advice and a patient’s consent.
"What the government has done with this law is put up a significant road block for a woman before she can access her constitutionally protected right to an abortion. Rights are not conditional. However, the General Assembly now says 'no compulsory ultrasound, no abortion,'” asserted Executive Director Tarina Keene. "This is a plain and simple attempt to shame and humiliate women and make it more difficult for her to access the care she needs.”
The new law requires:
- Women to succumb to a compulsory ultrasound before being provided an abortion. No consent, no abortion.
- A doctor must then offer the woman the opportunity to view the image and listen to the fetal heart tones. Refusal to view or listen requires the woman to sign a waiver that must be kept in her medical record for seven years.
- The ultrasound must be performed 24 hours prior to the abortion procedure – for no medical reason – unless the patient can prove she lives 100 miles or more from the provider. If a woman lives up to 99 miles away, this will mean an additional unnecessary visit on a separate day, requiring additional expenses such as taking more time off work and paying for more transportation and child care.
- Can’t afford an ultrasound? The state has developed a list of facilities that provide "free” ultrasounds. However, many facilities that provide free tests are so-called "crisis pregnancy centers.” These CPCs are not actually doctor’s offices bound by HIPPA privacy requirements, but groups with an anti-abortion agenda generally run by volunteers and often without medical training.
"This law inappropriately inserts the government into the homes and doctor’s offices of women and their families. The government should have no role in a woman’s personal, private medical choices. This is between her, her family and her doctor,” said Keene. "Women deserve our support and respect, not the government’s will imposed upon them during a time of crisis.”