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Discussions Continue Over Va. Ultrasound Bill

Discussions Continue Over Va. Ultrasound Bill

February 22, 2012 — Members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) staff met privately Tuesday evening to discuss a bill (HB 462) that would require women seeking abortion care to first receive an ultrasound, suggesting that a compromise might be under consideration, the Washington Post reports.

Earlier Tuesday, the House postponed a final vote on the measure for the second consecutive day amid intense opposition from women's health supporters and growing national attention to the measure (Kumar, Washington Post, 2/21). The bill also would mandate that women have the opportunity to view the ultrasound image (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/21).

Democrats said they hope to add changes on Wednesday that would make the ultrasound voluntary, according to the Post.

Officials with knowledge of Tuesday's meeting said that GOP leaders hope to introduce amendments on Wednesday but that it is not clear whether rank-and-file members would support the changes. One official also said that many of the bill's supporters were not aware how invasive some ultrasound procedures can be.

"Something is happening," Jessica Honke, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said. She added, "It's important for [the governor] to take a long, hard look before he actually does this" (Washington Post, 2/21). McDonnell initially voiced support for the legislation, but in the wake of "intense public attention" a spokesperson this weekend indicated that his stance was less concrete. "If the bill passes, he will review it, in its final form, at that time," spokesperson Martin Tucker said.

Some observers said the governor's shift in tone indicates that he might change the bill before signing it, which is permitted under Virginia law (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/21).