Virginia governor revokes support for ultrasound bill

After appearing to waver, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell has completely revoked his support for a Virginia draft law that would have required women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before having abortions, according to The Huffington Post.

In a statement released just minutes before the state legislature was to take up the bill, McDonnell said the bill he had previously supported was an unacceptable government intrusion on women's health.

"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," McDonnell was quoted as saying in the statement. "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure."

As the vote drew nearer, McDonnell’s reserve had appeared to weaken: a press secretary told a reporter from Alternet that “the governor will review it if it passes and will see what the final language of the bill is,” adding that McDonnell is “generally a pro-life candidate.” Slate noted that the language was a departure from previous statements from the governor’s aides who said he would sign the bill if it came to his desk.

The Guardian noted that McDonnell is seen by some in the Republican party as a possible vice-presidential candidate. The backtracking appeared to be in response to the mounting criticism from Democratic delegates, women’s health advocates and Virginian residents.

More on GlobalPost: Women in Virginia protest anti-abortion legislation

A Democratic delegate from Chesapeake, Lionell Spruill Sr., told his colleagues on the House floor on Tuesday, “I’m deeply disappointed in some of you. I can’t believe you would disrespect women in this county, in this state,” according to The Washington Post.

The procedure, which would be required of all women who want an abortion in their first trimester, is more invasive than an abdominal ultrasound. The New York Times explained that a transvaginal ultrasound mandated by the Virginia bill would “require a probe to be inserted into the vagina” in order for “the ultrasound [to] find and monitor the fetal heartbeat and provide an image of the shape of the fetus.”

The bill would also have women who refused to look at the images of the fetus to sign a statement, which would become part of their medical files along with the images, said The Post.

More on GlobalPost: Court allows Texas law on ultrasound before abortion

The bill received nationwide attention, and Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update mocked the bill and The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart took his shots at the bill on Tuesday night. Stewart focused on the physical intrusion of the procedure, saying, "During the whole wand forcibly inserted in your most private area experience, you still have complete and total control over what direction your head is turned."

Here’s the clip from The Daily Show:

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.