Planned Parenthood raises issue with Senate vote on ultrasounds, waiting periods

state-capitol2This morning, members of the Senate Education and Health committee defeated SB733 (D-Locke) and SB920 (D-Wexton), measures that would have removed the mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period required prior to abortion. Adopted in 2012 despite public outcry, the current law requires that every woman undergoing an abortion to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to her procedure– regardless of what her physician, in his or her best clinical judgment, thinks is medically appropriate for the individual patient. During the 2014 General Assembly, Senator Mamie Locke’s bill to repeal the mandatory ultrasound requirement was passed by the full Senate.

“We are deeply troubled by the Senate’s continued interference in the health care decisions of Virginia women. Requiring an additional 24-hour waiting period and mandatory ultrasound before abortion is about political interference, not informed consent,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid. “Medical information should not be provided with the intent or result of shaming, judging, or coercing a woman out of her carefully considered health care decisions.”

The committee also defeated SB769 (D-McEachin), a bill that would have reversed a 2013 amendment to prohibit insurance policies offered in any state or federal health exchange plan from covering abortion, regardless of whether such coverage is offered in the plan or as a separate, optional rider. The current ban on insurance coverage for abortion unfairly targets women who work for small businesses and working families who cannot afford insurance on their own.

“State and federal law already prohibits publicly funded health insurance coverage for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, totally incapacitating fetal abnormality, or when a woman’s life is endangered,” said Stewart-Reid. “Women should not be penalized because they are entrepreneurs, work for small nonprofit organizations, or have simply found themselves temporarily unemployed, especially when their health is in grave danger. All Virginians should have access to the comprehensive health care they need, regardless of where they get their insurance.

The bills defeated this morning would have reduced barriers to obtaining timely, safe health care for the women and families of Virginia.

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