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Virginia Senate Passes Abortion Ultrasound Bill

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Virginia women must now get a transabdominal ultrasound before they can seek an abortion.
Jorge Rimblas: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rimblas/3425525660/
Virginia women must now get a transabdominal ultrasound before they can seek an abortion.

A key vote in the Virginia Senate today mandates that women seeking an abortion must first have an ultrasound.

The hotly debated measure passed 21-19 today, largely along party lines. The vote had been delayed since yesterday. One amendment was added to the bill, exempting women who are victims of rape or incest.

Senate Republicans, and the one Democrat needed for a majority, voted to reject amendments that would have required insurance or the state to pay for the procedure. Another rejected amendment would have exempted women whose insurance wouldn't pay.

 

State Sen. Janet Howell (D), who offered some of the exemption amendments, was opposed, saying the ultrasounds are unnecessary. 

"And what this does it says that if the woman is the victim of a rape or incest, if the incident was reported to law enforcement authorities, she would not have to undergo the ultrasound," Howell said on the Senate floor as she introduced one fo her amendments. 

Her colleague State Sen. Tommy Norment, urged its passage. "I would ask that the body support this amendment on a bipartisan basis as it was a bipartisan amendment that was drafted," he said in support of Howell's amendment.

 

The bill is a watered-down version of one that made national headlines last week. The legislation passed today requires only an external abdominal ultrasound, after controversy last week when Senate Republicans pushed a requirement for the more invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedure.

 

Earlier in the day, the Senate Finance Committee voted 13-2 to kill a bill by Del. Mark Cole that would have eliminated state funding for low-income women who have learned that their fetuses have gross, incapacitating and perhaps mortal deformities.

The bill now goes back to the House, which can accept or reject the revisions.

 

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