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Va. gov. supports abortion ultrasounds, denounces TSA scans

Tuesday - 2/28/2012, 1:24pm  ET

(WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

WASHINGTON - The governor of Virginia on Tuesday defended his support of what many pro-choice organizations consider an unnecessary abortion practice, while maintaining his criticism of a TSA airport security procedure he says infringes on a traveler's dignity.

While speaking on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said proposed state legislation "protects the dignity of women" by mandating they first have an ultrasound before an abortion, as a part of "providing them with all the information."

McDonnell told WTOP in November that TSA airport body scans are "probably over the line," in regard to "people's concerns about their privacy."

When asked on Tuesday if these approaches were contradictory, he maintained there are ways to maintain security at an airport without invasive security procedures, adding he believes the proposed abortion policy respects the dignity of women by making sure they have necessary information.

The pro-life governor also backed up his recent decision to oppose the "transvaginal ultrasound" portion of the proposed legislation.

Pro-choice groups argued the original language in the Virginia legislation would require women in most cases to have a transvaginal ultrasound, a procedure that takes place inside the uterus. This facet of the legislation spurred nationwide attention and local debate.

Gov. McDonnell told WTOP he decided the procedure was "not good policy" after learning more about it, and consulting with the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who had constitutional concerns.

The governor maintains mandating an ultrasound is important for women considering an abortion.

"Now it's all about, 'Do you want the woman to have all the information, or not?'" he says.

Learn more about the proposed legislation, as well as the governor's recent visit to the White House, and his take on drilling for America's "God-given natural resources," in our Live Blog:

10:57 a.m., speaking about the charity basketball game:

The governor's staff plays lobbyists, then Democrats will play Republicans.

10:56 a.m., speaking about military downsizing:

It disproportionately affects Virginia. Of course I'm concerned about that. We could be smarter with our defense dollars, but we can't downgrade our forces.

10:55 a.m., speaking about working with Maryland and D.C. regarding area transportation:

We have new board members and a new governance structure. We're talking about other regional solutions. My priorities are rail to Dulles and HOT lanes on I-66.

10:54 a.m., speaking about government reform:

It's going very well. We're reducing the size of agencies. People expect government to be smarter and work harder, and not just ask for more taxes.

10:53 a.m., speaking about who will win Michigan:

It was June 7 before Hillary Clinton dropped out. It's still early. Once we have a nominee, there will be a strong rally around him.

10:51 a.m., speaking about Rick Santorum's comments whether every American should go to college:

I think Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee. I think we ought to celebrate the success of more people going to college. There are lot of young people who would choose an alternative career path.

10:43 a.m., speaking about whether the mandated ultrasound is comparable to TSA pat-downs:

There are things that are required in the interest of public safety, like TSA procedures. There are ways to accomplish the same result without an invasive pat-down.

I believe this is something that respects the dignity of women by making sure they have necessary information.

10:42 a.m., speaking about whether this overrides doctor's consent to women seeking an abortion:

There are certain things you have to be able to know, if you're a patient, if you can effectively give consent.

It doesn't affect the choice at all, but informed consent is completely required in every invasive medical procedure we have.

10:38 a.m., speaking about whether mandated ultrasounds before an abortion is an unfunded mandate:

There are any number of things the legislature does from time to time regarding medical insurance that add to the expense for the patient. I'm looking for ways to reduce the mandates all the time.

If there are legitimate mandates for health and safety, obviously I'm for those.

10:32 a.m., speaking about transvaginal ultrasounds:

I'm a pro-life governor. I think the more we do to create a pro-life environment in Virginia, the better we'll be. Last month, I said I support an ultrasound bill. There was nothing in the bill that said what type of ultrasound. Governors never give up the right to amend bills when they get to their desk.

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