Bill requiring ultrasound before abortion advances in Va. Senate

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The Senate Education and Health committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would require women to first undergo ultrasound imaging before having an abortion, a measure that had routinely died in the previously Democrat-led committee.

The measure was approved on a party-line 8-7 vote, with pro-life advocates helping push the bill sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, Loudoun Republican. A bill introduced by Sen. Ralph K. Smith, Botetourt Repiublican, was rolled into it.

The legislation would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, but would not require them to view it. Supporters argue that it is simply a way to bolster a woman’s understanding of the medical status of their pregnancy, while detractors argue that it’s an unnecessary intrusion and a backdoor attempt to get the woman to opt against undergoing the procedure.

The bill’s passage was a rather prominent example of Republicans’ newfound control in the Senate after November’s elections. Still, even with a Democratic Senate, the GOP managed to push through wide-ranging regulations on the state’s abortion clinics during the 2011 session. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed off on the emergency regulations last month, and a public hearing on permanent ones is scheduled for tomorrow.

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