Ultrasound laws are fairly common in the realm of abortion politics: 22 states already have them on the books.* But the proposed Virginia law--which would require an ultrasound to be performed 24 hours before an abortion and would give the mother the opportunity to view it--has been presented by pro-abortion activists, and even some in the mainstream media, as an unusually invasive regulation imposed on women. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, for example, wrote that the ultrasound requirement amounted to state-mandated rape. But as Commentary's Alana Goodman reports, "ultrasounds are already part of the abortion procedures at Virginia Planned Parenthoods."
According to a recording from Planned Parenthood's abortion hotline, a doctor will perform an ultrasound on a woman prior to performing a surgical or a medical (i.e. drug-induced) abortion:
“Patients who have a surgical abortion generally come in for two appointments. At the first visit we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit generally takes about an hour. At the second visit, the procedure takes place. This visit takes about an hour as well. For out of town patients for whom it would be difficult to make two trips to our office, we’re able to schedule both the initial appointment and the procedure on the same day.
Medical abortions generally require three visits. At the first visit, we do a health assessment, perform all the necessary lab work, and do an ultrasound. This visit takes about an hour. At the second visit, the physician gives the first pill and directions for taking two more pills at home. The third visit is required during which you will have an exam and another ultrasound.”
In other words, a woman seeking an abortion is already required by standard practice to show up for a separate doctor's visit and receive an ultrasound. A woman seeking an abortion would only be affected by this law in one way: the doctor would offer her the chance to view the ultrasound.
It's not just pro-abortion activists who have left out this important context regarding the ultrasound legislation. Bob Lewis of the Associated Press wrote last week that the "ultrasound legislation would constitute an unprecedented government mandate to insert vaginal ultrasonic probes into women as part of a state-ordered effort to dissuade them from terminating pregnancies, legislative opponents noted." But the Associated Press reporter completely failed to exercise due diligence and never noted that Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion practitioner in America, already performs an ultrasound prior to performing an abortion.
*Correction: This post originally cited a Washington Post blog that reports 26 states have ultrasound laws. In fact, 22 states have such laws.