Another Abortion Showdown in Virginia

Attorney General Cuccinelli rejects the decision of the Board of Health.

Last Spring, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was a pretty credible candidate for the vice presidency. Then he tripped over a trans-vaginal ultrasound bill that enraged women throughout the commonwealth and turned—almost overnight—into a great big political cautionary tale. As Alexander Burns explained in Politico, McDonnell’s early support of a law that would have mandated an invasive ultrasound procedure for women seeking abortions “turned McDonnell’s national political fortunes upside down.” (He later switched positions, signing a modified version of that law that did away with the now politically-toxic internal probe.) McDonnell not only became a walking human punch line for a few days, but he also may have finally managed to turn the commonwealth into a blue state: President Obama appears to have opened up a 20-point lead over Mitt Romney among women voters, who, presumably, didn’t want the state probing them for no coherent medical reason.

You’d think the lesson would be clear here: Voters may be deeply conflicted on the question of abortion, but women aren’t going to tolerate state efforts to eliminate it under the guise of protecting their superfragile health. Even voters worried about jobs and the economy aren’t too distracted to notice when the state begins to talk about women as if they just aren’t all that bright. But the message seems to have been lost amid breezy explanations that the Virginia trans-vaginal overreach was a one-off, or that the governor’s tanking poll numbers were unrelated, or that women in the commonwealth just won’t notice a blatantly political government overreach if it happens again.

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