Virginia Approves Restrictive Abortion Bill

Posted March 2nd, 2012 at 8:25 am (UTC-5)
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Lawmakers in the state of Virginia have passed a measure that will require women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound examination first.

A final vote passed easily in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates Thursday, and Governor Bob McDonnell has said he will sign it into law.

The examination procedure nominally is intended to determine the age of the fetus a woman is carrying before she can terminate her pregnancy. An initial draft had required a more invasive form of ultrasound test using a vaginal probe, rather than a more routine external examination, but protests by abortion-rights supporters persuaded the bill's sponsors to amend the legislation.

After angry demonstrations by activists in the state capital, Richmond, McDonnell urged his fellow Republicans to eliminate the vaginal-ultrasound requirement. They did so, and the final text of the bill removes the ultrasound requirement entirely for women who are victims of rape or incest, and who have reported the attacks to police.

The amended bill passed the state Senate on Tuesday . After McDonnell signs it, Virginia will become the seventh U.S. state requiring abortion providers to perform ultrasound examinations.

The Virginia legislature scuttled another controversial bill last week that would have granted legal protections to a human embryo. The so-called personhood bill define life as beginning from the moment of conception, and it was seen by many people as a preliminary step before outlawing abortion entirely.