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What's Different About Virginia's Ultrasound Bill?

Virginia's ultrasound bill caused an uproar, but there are similar bills in seven other states. Here's why Virginia hit a nerve.


Across the country, local legislators regularly cast votes to restrict abortions in their states. Most Americans never hear about it. But this week, Virginia's latest attempt to prevent women from securing abortions crashed and burned on the national stage—this time, over the issue of "vaginal probing." The state's "informed consent" bill mandated that all women seeking abortions would first have to undergo an ultrasound; practically, it meant that women in the first 12 weeks of their pregnancies would be forced to have a probe inserted in their vagina, then moved around in there until the doctor could produce an ultrasound image of a fetus.

As the bill moved through the Virginia legislature, the national news media began to wise up to these particulars, sparking outrage among pro-choice activists, progressive voters, and regular people. Journalists and politicians alike began to call it "state-mandated rape." Meghan McCain told Rachel Maddow that her friends "who are not into politics" have been texting her, wondering what this "vaginal probing" really means.

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