Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said in a lengthy statement today that he would not support the proposed bill that would require transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions—a procedure that many considered akin to "state sanctioned rape."

McDonnell recommended a series of amendments that would make the procedure, which is considered medically unnecessary, a choice of the patient.

It's a surprising move from McDonnell. When the state legislature passed the bill last week, the general perception was that the governor fully supported the statute. Not so. He's still "pro-life," he says, but believes that "there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done." He continued,

Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

For this reason, I have recommended to the General Assembly a series of amendments to this bill. I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision.

(Related: Governor McDonnell is in the running to be the GOP's candidate for vice president.)

The Guttmatcher Institute reports that seven states—Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas—currently require women to undergo ultrasounds prior to abortions. Pennsylvania legislature is reportedly considering a similar bill.

[WaPo, Image from Getty]