RICHMOND, March 8, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Virginia governor Bob McDonnell on Wednesday signed a bill requiring abortionists to perform an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion, and to offer them the opportunity to view the child in their womb, a measure Planned Parenthood has decried as extreme and designed to “shame” women seeking to abort their child.

McDonnell said in a statement Wednesday that HB 462 would strengthen informed consent rules already enshrined in state law.

“Women have a right to know all the available medical and legal information surrounding the abortion decision before giving legally effective informed consent,” he said. “As difficult as an abortion decision is, the information provided by ultrasounds, along with other information given by the doctor pursuant to current law and prevailing medical practice, can help the mother make a fully informed decision.”

The governor also noted that the measure “does not legally alter a woman’s ability to make a choice regarding her pregnancy.”

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The bill became the center of a media firestorm after Democrat opponents claimed the measure was tantamount to “rape” for requiring women to undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. However, although McDonnell backed down and ordered the bill amended to make it clear it does not mandate vaginal ultrasounds, backers of the bill said that the idea the bill ever required such a procedure was a complete fabrication by the pro-abortion lobby.

Pro-life legal experts note that performing an ultrasound, including a transvaginal ultrasound, prior to an abortion is considered standard medical care. Nonetheless, the Washington Post reports that even after it was amended abortion supporters continued to protest the measure at the Virginia Capitol complex, including in one demonstration Sunday that led to 30 arrests.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards called the bill “an appalling and offensive government overreach” and part of an “extreme agenda” on McDonnell’s part. It wasn’t clear whether the abortion giant planned to sue the state over the new law.

The bill is expected to go into effect July 1, making Virginia the 24th U.S. state to require that abortion-bound women be given an opportunity to view their child’s ultrasound image. Each violation incurs a $2,500 fine under the new law.

Melinda Delahoyde, president of the pregnancy resource center network Care Net, applauded Gov. McDonnell for signing the bill.

“We have seen time and time again that ultrasound images give women important information about their bodies and the baby they are carrying – many times inspiring them to make a life-affirming decision,” Delahoyde said.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the bill was an important step towards informed consent for abortion-bound women. “Women considering whether to have an abortion should be just as informed as doctors about the child they are carrying. This law ensures that they are,” said Perkins.