The Virginia state legislature has recently passed a law, subsequently signed by Governor Bob McDonnell, which will require abortion-seeking women to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to becoming eligible for the abortion itself. The law has quickly become a hotly debated issue both in Virginia and in the country as whole. There are a multitude of ethical and political issues at stake here, the most pressing of which is the fact that a majority of Virginia residents do not support the bill. The safety of ultrasound procedures is an issue that has not been fully settled by the medical community, and some organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) claim that ultrasound exams should only be performed when medically necessary so as to mitigate risk. The Virginia legislature has succeeded in crafting and passing a bill that requires an invasive medical procedure, lacks political support, and is potentially dangerous for unborn fetuses. In their blind pursuit of an anti-abortion agenda, the right-wing controlled legislature has reached new levels of hypocrisy and political unaccountability.
Requiring women to undergo a potentially unsafe medical procedure that medical professionals have deemed unnecessary for no reason other than ideology is a gross overstep of legislative authority. The requirement is an invasion of privacy and personal choice aimed at adding additional restrictions to a medical procedure that has already been protected by the highest court in the United States. This practice not only violates constitutional guarantees of civil rights, but also violates Virginia state’s own laws. A legislature that is so out of touch that it chooses to ignore the majority opinion of its constituency while discriminating against women simply because of their reproductive choices is unacceptable in our modern democracy. Legislatures are designed to uphold and to protect the rights and desires of their constituents regardless of personal opinions or ideological convictions. The actions of Virginian lawmakers represent a current trend in our country that continually bases political decisions on ideology rather than sound expertise or a consideration of public opinion.
By enacting an unpopular law for any reason other than to protect or to aid the populace in a substantive manner constitutes a blatant affront to our foundational ideals of democracy and civic responsibility. The issue at stake is broader than just the law in question; it is a struggle for just and accountable political actions from our elected officials. Virginians should refuse to abide by an unnecessary legal requirement that they do not support. Women’s reproductive autonomy is an important part of their civil and legal equality, and by refusing to accept this Virginia lawmakers have committed the dual offense of ignoring public opinion and requiring an unfair procedure disproportionally affecting a specific section of the populace. As an abuse of political power that is actively discriminatory, the Virginia law represents very basic flaws in our current system. Politicians are meant to protect and to serve those who have placed their trust in them and elected them to political office. The current state of affairs in Virginia is an unacceptable dismissal of democratic ideals that must be rectified. For now, we can only hope that the last remaining part of the political system, the judiciary, can right the wrongs enacted by the legislative and executive branches and to protect the democratic rights of Virginian citizens.
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