On Wednesday, the state Senate in the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a bill requiring women who wish to procure an abortion to first have an ultrasound. They can decline to view the ultrasound images, but must sign a statement that they so declined. The bill has passed the Virginia House of Delegates on previous occasions, but had always been stalled in the Senate. It is expected to be signed into law.
I am often ambivalent about efforts to restrict abortion at the state level. I am always worried that unless we in the pro-life movement have first convinced more Americans than we have so far, we risk a backlash that we underestimate. Look at the furor over the Komen Foundation's decision to defund Planned Parenthood, which was made for the eminently sensible reason that they prefer to fund agencies that actually perform mammograms, rather than Planned Parenthood which mostly refers women to other health care providers to get a mammogram. The pro-choice movement is feeling defensive, and I would not underestimate the political backlash.
With that caveat, I am thrilled - make that THRILLED - by the Virginia bill and others like it because it forces the culture, not just the women involved, to stop finding euphemisms to describe the horror of what abortion actually does. When you look at an ultrasound, you will never again use the word "fetus" with such dismissiveness. I have only seen a few ultrasounds, but they all reveal what sure looks like a baby to me.
Indeed, the weakness of the arguments against the bill reveal just how foolish the pro-choice advocates can be. In the Post, Sen. Janet D. Howell said, "I'm appalled that some legislators are insisting on putting government regulation between a woman and her doctor." Appalled, are you? Are doctors allowed to prescribe medicines that have not first been approved the FDA? That is a government regulation that stands "between a woman and her doctor." Same for medical procedures. Doctors, like most professionals, must operate within a system of government regulation designed to protect consumers and, in this case, patients from harm. It is a little ironic to find some Democrats so hostile to government regulation. It is doubly ironic to hear a Democrat voicing an objection to a government mandate regarding health care!
But, the real value of the ultrasound law is, as I say, that it helps to defeat the lies that have encrusted the abortion industry for years. I have recalled this before, but it is one of those passages that is always worth recalling. Shortly after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Daniel Callahan wrote in Commonweal:
The Virginia law, then, will not only be a victory for the life of the unborn, it will be a victory for truth. God willing, and if the rest of us do our work reaching out, discussing, explaining, and convincing, that truth will help set us free from the horrific abortion regime in our country.