Va. Senate changes ultrasound abortion bill

Feb. 24, 2012 at 4:00 AM
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RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Virginia's Senate changed an abortion bill obliging women seeking abortions to have internal ultrasounds and killed a bill giving full legal rights to a fetus.

The Senate Education and Health Committee Thursday approved changes in the ultrasound bill so women seeking abortions would now be required to have an external ultrasound rather than the invasive transvaginal ultrasound the original legislation required, lawmakers said.

The full state Senate could vote on the bill as early as Friday, The Washington Examiner reported.

The change came the same day the Senate voted 24-14 to kill a bill for this session that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person, entitled to full human rights.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who had supported the bill, said Wednesday he would no longer support the provision requiring a transvaginal ultrasound.

The so-called personhood bill, sponsored by Republican Del. Robert G. Marshall of Manassas, said "unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of the commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the commonwealth."

Opponents -- including about 300 people who rallied at the state Capitol Thursday -- said the bill jeopardized women's ability to seek to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, threatened to criminalize contraception and laid the groundwork for a legal challenge to abortion, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reported.

The measure was re-referred to the Education and Health Committee for further study and debate.

The vote came after Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment of James City warned fellow Republicans the bill was far more complicated than it appeared.

"There were many more complexities and nuances and legal arguments and legal perspectives on that bill than I had ever imagined," Norment said.

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