A less invasive but still controversial version of Virginia’s pre-abortion ultrasound bill — that does not mandate transvaginal ultrasounds — has passed out of a Senate committee.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the Senate Education and Health Committee passed a version of the bill on Thursday, by a vote of 8-7.
On Wednesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) backed off from his initial support of a bill that would have mandated that women receive a transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound before they could get an abortion. McDonnell recommended that the House of Delegates pass an amended version of the bill that would require women to get a transabdominal ultrasound before getting an abortion.
The House of Delegates passed the bill 65-32, but at the same time Sen. Jill Vogel (R), who introduced the original transvaginal ultrasound bill, announced that she would be striking her version after the ensuing controversy. She said she was “not ashamed to stand up in front of my colleagues — and some I know who will be very upset with me for doing this — and admit if I don’t know the answer and if I don’t have all the answers,” The Virginian-Pilot reports.
“I didn’t believe I could continue to carry the bill with all the current questions out there,” Vogel said.
But the House had also passed HB 462, introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron (R), which is effectively the same as the amended version. It requires a transabdominal ultrasound in cases in which it can be used to determine gestational age, but retains as an option the more invasive transvaginal ultrasound. That bill is the one the passed the Senate Committee on Thursday, and will now head to the Senate for a vote.
Though the amended version is much less invasive that Vogel’s orginal, Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told TPM Wednesday that this is “not at all” a victory. “As it still stands,” she said, “this bill is still a mandatory ultrasound. The government should have no role in this decision whether its internal or external.”
Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) called the new version “utterly useless” because in the first trimester, when most women have abortions, the fetus is too small to be detected by a transabdominal ultrasound.
If the bill becomes law, though, it will put Virginia in line with seven other states that mandate an ultrasound before an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The committee also passed a bill that would define “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception, which had already passed the House.