New Virginia Dept Of Health Releases “Free Forced Ultrasound” List Still Includes Unregulated and Unaccountable CPCs

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New Virginia Dept Of Health Releases “Free Forced Ultrasound” List Still Includes Unregulated and Unaccountable CPCs

Robin Marty

The state has corrected their list of clinics that provide "free ultrasounds" that women can visit before an abortion, but they still are all crisis pregnancy centers.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has released an updated list of clinics a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy can visit in order to obtain the state-compelled ultrasound now required prior to actually getting an abortion. Removed from the new list are two affiliates that weren’t clinics at all, but rather “satellite resource” centers — Keim Center of Suffolk and Keim Center of Portsmouth. The list, however, adds no new information for those places to obtain an ultrasound other than crisis pregnancy centers, which exist for the explicit purpose of deterring women from terminating a pregnancy, using misinformation and ideology to do so.

“While this new list is seemingly an improvement, VDH still lists five CPCs that don’t, according to NARAL’s 2009 report on CPCs, meet the statutory requirement,” said Katherine Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “That’s not to mention the fact that the others are still CPCs even if they do meet the statutory requirement.”

In other words, the CPCs do not meet the following legal requirement: 

“At least 24 hours before the performance of an abortion, a qualified medical professional trained in sonography and working under the supervision of a physician licensed in the Commonwealth shall perform fetal transabdominal ultrasound imaging on the patient undergoing the abortion for the purpose of determining gestational age.” 

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The fact that they are CPCs is still the biggest concern. Regardless of their roles in trying to coerce women into carrying pregnancies to term, there is no medical oversight, accountability, or regulation of procedures in CPCS.  Moreover, CPCs refuse to guarantee that they will keep medical data private. All of these are grave concerns in a state where politicians from Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Bob Cuccinelli — who is running for Governor — on down are so clearly willing to put their personal ideology over medical safety and women’s rights.

This isn’t the first time the state of Virginia has chosen to push CPCs as a place for women to obtain information on their reproductive health. As part of the “A Virginia Guide to Family Planning, Genetics and Social Services” the state provides a listing of centers that offer support to women when it comes to having children, including numerous crisis pregnancy centers, yet it does not list one family planning clinic that might offer contraception to those seeking to delay their next pregnancy or who’ve achieved their desired family size and want to prevent another pregnancy altogether.

By releasing an updated list of available, no-cost ultrasounds, the Virginia Department of Health implies that the new set of providers will provide ultrasounds that can be used to meet the forced ultrasound required by the state prior to an abortion. But in reality that is still not the case. It is clear that VDH is less concerned about whether or not women receive medically-accurate — even if medically-unnecessary and coerced — ultrasounds than it is in directing women to anti-choice indoctrination centers to undergo a state-compelled medical procedure that would likely not even meet the criteria for what the state is forcing women to do to get an abortion.