The Virginia House of Delegates passed two abortion-related bills yesterday, and the AP isn't mincing words in describing them, or the process, saying the GOP supermajority "muscled [through] two of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in years." One requires women to have a "transvaginal ultrasound"—which the Virginian-Pilot noted in a scathing editorial earlier this month involves inserting "a condom-covered probe into a woman's vagina to obtain an image"—before undergoing an abortion. The other could essentially outlaw abortions entirely: Del. Bob Marshall's House Bill 1, which passed 66-32, declares that a person's rights begin from the moment sperm meets egg. Democrats objected loudly but in vain.
Marshall's bill has passed the conservative House before; the difference this time is that there's no longer a moderate Senate standing in its way. GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell has pledged to sign the ultrasound bill, but hasn't taken a stance on HB 1. Critics of the ultrasound bill point out that the state would be creating a mandate on vaginal ultrasonic probes. "We're talking about inside a woman's body," said Democratic Del. Charnielle Herring. "This is the first time, if we pass this bill, that we will be dictating a medical procedure to a physician." A conservative group applauded the bill as a legislative "update" that makes use of "the most advanced medical technology available." (Read more abortion stories.)