Va. Senate kills 'personhood' bill

Feb. 23, 2012 at 9:30 PM
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RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The Virginia state Senate voted Thursday to kill a bill for this session that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person, entitled to human rights.

The 24-14 vote came on a proposal to send a bill back to committee for further study and debate, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reported. The motion had been brought by Democratic state Sen. Richard Saslaw, but Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment supported the measure, saying debate on the bill had raised complex issues that required further examination, the newspaper said.

The vote came after the Senate Education and Health Committee voted o approve an amended version of a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasound procedures first. The bill, sponsored by Republican Del. Kathy Byron, had become contentious because of a provision requiring invasive transvaginal ultrasound be performed.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who had supported the bill, said Wednesday he would not support that provision. The amended version would require trans-abdominal ultrasound when it could determine gestational age, but would make the procedure optional when invasive, transvaginal ultrasound would be required to determine gestational age, the newspaper said.

Opponents of the so-called personhood measure said declaring a fertilized egg a person would jeopardize a range of women's reproductive health rights.

Katherine Greenier, director of the Women's Rights Project with the ACLU of Virginia, said the bill "would lay the legal foundation to ban abortion and contraception in the event of a Supreme Court reversal [of Roe v. Wade]," the Times-Dispatch reported.

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