In Virginia's case, Gov. Bob McDonnell backed off slightly after abortion rights advocates correctly characterized the procedure as akin to a legal rape. The new bill will now require less invasive ultrasound tests.
That is no victory. Nine states require such tests in the service of varying degrees of intimidating women seeking abortions -- and several of them also implicitly require vaginal probes. Even when an abdominal scan is done, the intent is the same: Using the guise of informed consent to stop a woman making her legal choice.
Co-opting the language of women's rights is a clever trick but it is disingenuous in the extreme. Supporters of such bills do not want women to consent to abortion: They want them to be shamed and emotionally blackmailed to withdraw their consent.
That is why the supporters of these bills insist that women be allowed to see a clear picture of the fetus. They know but don't care that most women seeking an abortion already know what a fetus looks like and have probably thought deeply about their decision. Nor do they care that the manipulative requirements presume women to be idiots and emotional basket cases. And it's not just in Virginia.
Pennsylvania also has an ultrasound bill (House Bill 1077, styled deceptively as the "Women's Right-to-Know Act") that is even more coercive. It would require a woman to face the ultrasound screen -- although she is allowed to look away -- and carry a copy of the image to the physician performing her abortion.
Virginia's bill was only remarkable because for once women's advocates made an issue of it. Pennsylvanians should do the same.