Va. Senate Postpones Vote on Ultrasound Bill To Consider Amendments

February 1, 2012 — On Tuesday, the Republican sponsor of a Virginia bill (SB 484) requiring ultrasounds before abortion care agreed to postpone a vote while a Democratic senator prepares an amendment that would make the ultrasound optional, the Virginian-Pilot reports.

As written, the bill would require a woman to receive an ultrasound and be given the option to view the image before obtaining abortion care. Abortion providers would have to keep a copy of the image in the patient's file.

Sen. Ralph Northam (D), a physician, said he is working on an amendment that would allow women to decline the ultrasound so that she would not be "forced to have a procedure against her will," although abortion providers would still have to offer the ultrasounds.

Bill Would Restrict Abortion Funding for Low-Income Women

In related news, a key House committee on Tuesday voted 12-9 to advance a bill (HB 62) that would end state financial support for low-income women seeking abortion services when a doctor believes the fetus "would be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency." The bill now goes to the House floor.

The panel heard testimony from three women who terminated pregnancies because the fetuses had grave medical conditions. The women said they paid thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, even with insurance, and they questioned whether the state would pay the medical bills of disabled children born to low-income women.

The bill's sponsor, Del. Mark Cole (R), has said the legislation would bring Virginia law in line with federal code (Walker, Virginian-Pilot, 2/1).