By LAILA AYUB
Virginia has become the subject of talk across the nation over the past week. Unfortunately, as displayed on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” our state is a laughing stock of sorts, ridiculed for the legislature’s recent debate on a mandatory transvaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion.
Hundreds across the state organized a protest on the state capitol last Monday. One woman in protest wore a sticker reading “Say No to State-Mandated rapes” in reference to the obligatory ultrasound. Some see the procedure as leading to further trauma for rape victims, as well as simply a violation of human rights, since the woman has no choice in the matter.
Fortunately, the public outcry and national attention destroyed the transvaginal provision, but on Tuesday, Feb. 28, a different mandate took its place. Women trying to receive an abortion must get an abdominal ultrasound and if this image is unclear, the doctor can suggest a transvaginal ultrasound. However, women will not be mandated to get the invasive procedure. The bill exempts cases of rape or incest that are reported to law enforcement.
It is unfortunate that it took such a large public outcry for Virginia legislatures to change this bill. The fact that it almost passed should concern many. A recent survey by The Richmond Times-Dispatch showed that 55 percent of Virginians oppose the measure, while only 36 percent actually support it. Furthermore, Virginians fear that this will set a precedent across the nation for states where anti-abortion advocates wish to reduce the scope of the provisions set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe vs. Wade decision. The opposition calls these measures “anti-choice,” while the advocates continue to see them as “pro-life.”
Nationally, there has been continued debate over the federal requirement for birth control to be provided whether or not an institution sees it morally fit. Republicans argue that this is an extension of the government into personal decision and it is fundamentally wrong.
This hypocrisy is ludicrous. When Republicans deal with this birth control debate, they claim that it is an extension of government into personal decision-making. However, when it comes to abortions, they turn a blind eye to this criticism.
But perhaps what incited the greatest degree of disappointment and frustration in Virginia’s legislative action was the huge degree of concern on women’s issues, especially by predominantly male delegates and senators, and in a time when most constituents are concerned with more pressing issues such as unemployment. Even when it comes to women’s issues, the larger concern is equal rights, and in a country founded on diverse values but the fundamental principles of freedom and liberty, this means the individual’s right to choose, especially on such sensitive topics.
It is truly shocking that this bill almost passed the Senate, even with under these conditions. It is unbelievable that it took such a large public outcry to bring change.
Brian Auricchio contributed to this article.