Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) sat down with David Gregory on "Meet the Press" yesterday, and though he had to know the question was coming, the Republican still struggled to defend his record on forced ultrasounds.
The host asked the governor a pretty straightforward question: "You backed an abortion bill initially that included a very invasive procedure as part of an ultrasound that the state would have required and then you backed off of that. Were you wrong to support that initially or did you simply back off because the political heat got turned up the way it did?"
Under the circumstances, that was hardly an unfair inquiry. McDonnell had announced his support for a measure that would have required women in Virginia to undergo a state-mandated vaginal probe in order to terminate a pregnancy. Once the proposal generated a national controversy, the governor dropped his support and opted for a different forced-ultrasound measure.
Despite weeks of debate, McDonnell struggled with Gregory's question, repeatedly trying to change the subject. For those who can't watch clips online, the full transcript is available, but after repeated exchanges, the Virginia governor eventually offered this underwhelming defense.
GREGORY: This was the state of the Virginia mandating women have an additional procedure, a mandated health procedure. I thought that's exactly what conservatives opposed?
McDONNELL: David, this was about stating what informed consent is and saying that women have a right to know certain things before a procedure. Every invasive procedure has an informed consent requirement.
This was the best the Republican could do, and after these two sentences, McDonnell changed the subject again.
The Virginian obviously still hopes to be added to his party's presidential ticket, but before McDonnell packs his bags for Tampa, he'll need a more coherent explanation of his record.
He publicly endorsed a proposal to require women, against the wishes of physicians, to undergo an invasive, medically-unnecessary procedure, because some right-wing culture warriors want to shame patients. McDonnell ended up signing an only-slightly-less outrageous measure that still requires Virginians to undergo state-mandated, medically-unnecessary ultrasounds, to satisfy the demands of far-right activists.
Asked about this, the governor argues that "women have a right to know" about their pregnancy? McDonnell's defense is, in effect, big-government paternalism?
Good luck with the vetting process, gov.