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.
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.
We realized the mandate would include an invasive ultrasound, and concluded that requiring a mandated, invasive ultrasound “was not good policy.” That was not mentioned when I was first briefed on the bill. The Attorney General’s Office had some questions constitutionally. Because of that, I suggested amending the bill.
I recommended to the House, they adopted it. It’s been incorporated in the Senate.
Before a woman makes one of the most important decisions of her life, let’s give the woman all the information she would want and need. Let’s also make sure we can “pinpoint” the fetus’ gestational age.
Now it’s about “Do you want the woman to have all the information, or not?”
10:27 a.m., speaking about guns on campus:
I think Boards of Visitors should be able to set policy for safety on their campuses. Many colleges have past laws saying guns should be banned. I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but safety on campus is the highest priority.
10:25 a.m., speaking about sexual assaults in college:
As the father of three daughters in and graduated from college, this issue of campus safety is very important.
10:24 a.m., speaking about the Year of the Entrepreneur:
We’re highlighting the success stories of entrepreneurs and creating more programs for that at colleges. We’re having a roundtable on how we can produce more, and reduce the regulatory burdens on small businesses. This is where 71 percent of the jobs get created: the entrepreneur and small businesses. Please go to our Facebook page if you have ideas.
10:20 a.m., speaking about funding for transportation projects:
Last year we funded framework for $4.2 billion in transportation funding. We pushed out $2 billion for new projects last year. Between environmental work and other planning, it takes a while for “the dirt being moved.”
The area around Tysons Corner is already under construction, as are the HOT lanes. There will be a lot more evidence soon.
10:16 a.m., speaking about social issues discussion trumping transportation, education, the budget:
All we ask from the media is be fair, cover what’s actually going on. Much of the attention has been put on four or five bills. It’s been a complete “overreach,” and misrepresentation of what’s actually happening with veterans, pension reform, transportation and a variety of other things.
There is an imbalance in the reporting of what we’re doing. Ninety-seven percent of bills we passed in the crossover did not have to do with social issues.
The things that involve passion, conflict and difference of opinion will, of course, garner more media attention.
10:13 a.m., speaking about Senate Democrats opposing the budgets:
I asked them what they want, and essentially got “radio silence.” We have a defining vote tomorrow. We’ll see if they put partisanship over approving a budget.
They’ve expressed discontent about the committee assignments they got seven weeks ago. Because they’re still upset, they would bring the Virginia government to its knees.
“It’s not the Virginia way.”
I’ve been in office 21 years, I’ve never seen anything like it, “putting these committees over the budget.”
I do not believe this is because they ideologically oppose the budget. I’ve given them weeks to let me know what they oppose.
I remain hopeful we’ll have a better result tomorrow.
10:11 a.m., speaking about rising gas prices:
Everyone is concerned about this. They’ve gone up 90 percent since the president has been in office. “I believe this administration has really hamstrung us,” with restricting this nation’s “God-given natural resources.”
I’ve been trying to drill off of the coast of Va. for years. The more we do things like that here, the less we have to rely on instable foreign resources.
I didn’t get any sense of a foreign policy to remedy that from the White House.
10:05 a.m., speaking about visiting the White House for the 3-day governors association meeting:
It’s a great way to interact with other governors, and collectively figure out what challenges we get from the federal government though unfunded mandates and inflexible laws.
We talked about how we deal with FEMA, to funding the National Guard. I got to sit next to Mrs. Obama. That was a real treat.
We discussed ports, like the Port of Hampton Roads. With the widening of the Panama Canal, we’ll be a “net winner.”
Republican governors applaud the president on his K-12 public schools approach. “I think there’s a lot of common ground on education,” he says. Transportation is a different issue.
WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.