-- The new version of the controversial fetal ultrasound measure was approved by the Senate Education and Health Committee Thursday morning.
The bill, which passed on an 8-7 party line vote, does not require women to have an invasive transvaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion. It still requires an external abdominal ultrasound prior to an abortion, followed by a 24-hour wait period.
The new version was prompted after Gov. Bob McDonnell and Republican lawmakers backed away from requiring tansvaginal ultrasounds 24 hours before having an abortion procedure done, after protests by opponents and national media attention to the measure intensified in the past two weeks.
The full House of Delegates passed the new version of the measure after GOP lawmakers and the governor worked out a compromise requiring only a transabdominal ultrasound, with transvaginal being optional if a doctor and patient feel it's necessary.
Women could refuse the transvaginal ultrasound, even if it's recommended by her doctor.
Physicians speaking in opposition to the proposal pointed out that transabdominal ultrasounds are useless during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, who originally sponsored the bill the House approved on Wednesday, said she would kill her bill because has never intended to push legislation that caused such a controversy.
The House version of the bill, now changed, will be heard by the full Senate and still could be passed into law.
Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, said while the bill is better in that it no longer includes "state-mandated rape," it is still "an abomination"
Del. Kathy Byron, R-Cambbell County, sponsored the House bill approved this morning. She said the legislation is designed to update the state's informed consent law regarding abortions. She said because the science of ultrasounds better determines gestational age it is reworking the law to incorporate advances in technology.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, said that argument was bogus. He claimed the bill was an obvious attempt to create barriers to discourage women from getting legal abortions.
Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, a pediatric neurologist, said this is the only time he knows of that the General Assembly would dictate to doctors what standards of care they must use. He said that was unacceptable as other types of miscarriages, which sometimes require doctors to perform abortion procedures, are not exempted by the bill.