Favola to GOP: Women Won't Forget
MARCH 1, 2012 — by JUSTIN STOLTZFUS
“I don’t think that women in Virginia are going to forget this,” Senator Barbara Favola said, as she contemplated the aftermath of the abortion ultrasound bill passed earlier this week by the Virginia Senate. Favola, who represents parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, emerged as a leader in the fight against the measure, which she called “paternalistic.”
Favola said the final version of the law, which eliminated the hotly controversial requirement for a transvaginal ultrasound in some abortions, said it goes against a longstanding focus of Virginia politicians, especially in the Republican party, of promoting less government involvement in personal life.
“Politicians are telling doctors what to do.” she said, adding that she did not hear any particular reason for this specific deviation from the general principle of recognizing a patient’s rights in electing medical procedures. Such blatant intervention, she said, will ultimately harm the entire state. Favola said that Virginia enjoys a reputation of being a good place to do business; she said legislation like the mandated ultrasound could work against Virginia’s future as an appealing business community, as many employers may hesitate to locate here, especially with close-by Maryland as a competitor.
Looking back on the ultrasound and “personhood” battles in a FairfaxNews interview, Favola called the process “very discouraging” and said that although the abortion bill was ultimately amended to include provisions for rape and incest situations, other proposed amendments by Democrats were rejected, including a proposal that insurance companies should be required to cover the cost of mandated ultrasounds. Favola said insurers usually do not cover medically unnecessary procedures and ultrasounds could cost $1,200 or more.
“Mandatory diagnostic tests that are unnecessary and add to healthcare costs are opposed by leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association.” added Favola.
The lack of coverage, along with waiting lists and other aspects of the requirement, will cause delays in abortions, which, she says, will cause more unnecessary health risks for women.
She predicted the abortion and personhood bills will produce political shock waves that will influence future elections over a number of years, starting with the next national elections this year, and extending to 2013 when Virginia House delegates are up for re-election, as well as Congressional races in 2014 and beyond.
“(Virginia) has got to look like it’s focused on issues that matter.” said Favola. “We’ve got to show that we care about governing well, that we’re able to solve real problems.”
Favola said that opponents of the bill will continue to try to encourage the same kind of scrutiny that she said ultimately had an impact on revisions of the original legislation, including national late-night television coverage and prominent debate within Virginia and beyond. Since its rise to national prominence, Virginia’s treatment of the issue has already generated significant grassroots demonstrations, and although the state’s leadership seems to have hardened its stance on the issue, the controversy around these landmark legislative efforts is not going away anytime soon, she warned.