Virginia calling: An open letter to Bob McDonnell

The kerfuffle in Virginia.
The kerfuffle in Virginia.
Scott Elmquist/Richmond Style Weekly

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed the forced ultrasound bill today, saying that it ensured no one would have to undergo an “internal” ultrasound, by which he means the vaginal probe kind. More about that on the show tonight.

For now, an open letter sent to us a couple days ago by Virginia lawyer Tara Louise Casey. She headlines it “What the Kerfuffle is Really About: An Open Letter to Governor McDonnell.”

As a Virginia citizen, and especially as a woman and a mother of a daughter, I have voiced my opposition to the mandatory ultrasound bill. Although I participated in the public protests to this legislation, I also sought to engage legislators and other constituents in discussions tempered with mutual respect and moderate voice. When the Virginia Senate passed this bill, I expressed my profound disappointment in what I viewed as the misguided failure of our legislative process. Nevertheless, I strove to maintain an open dialogue, free of platitudes and presumptions. This evening, I learned that my Governor does not hold to the same rules in this debate. Last Friday, Governor McDonnell sat down with National Review Online’s Jim Geraghty to discuss “the kerfuffle over the ultrasound bill.” I recommend this piece to every Virginian to read as the Governor has used this platform to express his perspective. Below are his words from the interview and my responses: “If you just read the papers, you have no idea what’s going on in the legislature because the reporting has been so poor this session.” Governor, I have been there as a steadfast advocate and witness. The reason people are outraged and protesting is that they have been paying attention, very close attention. Sustained engagement in and educational outreach on the legislative process leading up this bill’s passage has been a civics lesson for many. Please, do not blame the media for this kerfuffle.
“I don’t think the objective of an abortion clinic is to try to talk women out of having the procedure. That obviously would not be positive for their bottom line.”

Governor, I encourage you to talk to a physician who has performed an abortion, because, based upon your comment, it would seem that you have not. If you had, you would soon realize that “the bottom line” is not what motivates these physicians in practice. To suggest otherwise would be an insult to their ethics and a gross mischaracterization. Please, do not blame the physicians for this kerfuffle.

“Despite the rhetoric of opponents, this was about empowering women with more medical and legal information that previously they were not required to get in order to give informed consent.”

Governor, Merriam-Webster has three definitions for “empower” – “to give official authority or legal power to; [to] enable; to promote the self-actualization or influence of.” It defies basic comprehension of this word to deduce that a mandate represents empowerment. In fact, this legislation thwarts any attempt at empowerment as it will interfere with a woman’s autonomous choice and assumes that her doctor would provide her insufficient information to make that choice. The last time Virginia ever passed a mandated medical procedure was the forced sterilization of the mentally ill, a scenario in which there is no presence of empowerment. Please, do not blame a misunderstanding of the word “empower” for this kerfuffle.

“Informed consent is required for every invasive medical procedure, from getting your ears pierced to having an abortion.”

Governor, even in an illustrative context, an abortion should not be placed on the same plane of medical procedures as an ear piercing. Ears are pierced at kiosks in the mall. Invasive medical procedures are performed by specially trained medical personnel in medical settings. Your relation of an ear piercing to an abortion reveals either your complete insensitivity to this issue, or your complete ignorance. Please do not blame a citizenry’s misunderstanding of this issue for this kerfuffle.

This is our Governor. This is his perspective.

Dear Reader, that is exactly what the “kerfuffle” is all about.

(Photo: Scott Elmquist of Richmond’s Style Weekly. Gallery)

Bob McDonnell, Reproductive Rights and Virginia

Virginia calling: An open letter to Bob McDonnell