RICHMOND — A controversial measure that will require women to undergo ultrasound imaging before having an abortion is on its way to the desk of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
The Virginia House of Delegates, on a 61-35 vote, approved a version Thursday that had been amended by the Senate to stipulate that the woman would not have to undergo the ultrasound in the cases of rape or incest.
The original measure could have required women to undergo a transvaginal procedure, but Mr. McDonnell successfully proposed changes to the bill so that only a transabdominal, "jelly-on-the-belly" ultrasound would be mandatory.
The bill adds to the state's informed consent law, and proponents say it is intended to ensure that women have access to as much information as possible before undergoing the procedure.
Delegate Kathy J. Byron, Campbell Republican and sponsor of the measure, said that the heated topic has led to opponents leaving "vile" phone messages with her secretary, and that people have "readily and casually mentioned methods by which we should die."
"What the bill does do is provide information," Ms. Byron said. "There are many reasons that this is standard medical practice that is already being performed today when you're getting an abortion."
The difference, opponents say, is that it would be unprecedented that the state order a medical procedure be performed without having insurance companies pay for it.
And since the vast majority of abortions occur in the early stages of pregnancy, the specific procedure being mandated would not be enough to provide anything discernible that would help determine the gestational age of the child, opponents say.
"Legislation will not end abortion," said Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan, Richmond Democrat. "We cannot legislate medicine.
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