RICHMOND (Capital News Service) – The Virginia Senate has passed a bill requiring the use of ultrasound testing prior to the performance of an abortion.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) now goes to the House of Delegates. If passed – a likely prospect in the Republican-controlled House – the measure will be sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell to be signed into law.
The Senate voted 21-18 in favor of Senate Bill 484 on Wednesday. The bill would require the use of ultrasound testing before an abortion. The woman would then have the option to view the sonograms before terminating her pregnancy.
Loudoun’s delegation to the Senate split on the vote along party lines, with Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) supporting Vogel’s bill, while Sens. Mark Herring (R-32) Barbara Favola (D-31) voted against the measure. Vogel represents parts of western Loudoun and Favola represents parts of eastern Loudoun; Black’s and Herring’s districts cover Ashburn.
The Senate Education and Health Committee voted favorably on SB 484 on Jan. 26. The committee, in which Republicans narrowly outnumber Democrats, referred the bill to the Senate floor in a strict party-line vote.
“My expectation is that it will gain a favorable vote in the full Senate,” Vogel said after the committee’s vote. “It is a bill that has had bipartisan support in other states, and I think you will find it has bipartisan support in the Senate of Virginia.”
On Wednesday, the bill did get the support of two Democratic senators, Charles Colgan of Manassas and Phillip Puckett of Tazewell.
One Republican – Sen. John Watkins of Powhatan County – voted against the bill. Democratic Sen. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth did not vote.
Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, is a physician who opposed the bill. On Tuesday, he sought to amend Vogel’s bill, prompting senators to delay the vote on SB 484 until Wednesday. On Wednesday, however, Northam’s plea for another delay was shot down.
“It severely and significantly affects the provider-patient relationship,” Northam said. “The government should have nothing to do with it.”
The Family Foundation of Virginia considered the bill’s passage in the Senate to be a major victory for its organization.
“We would like to thank Senator Vogel and Senate leaders who worked with us to ensure the passage of this important measure,” the Family Foundation said on its website.
However, Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said in a press release that the proposed law would be detrimental to a woman’s choice and to the physician-patient relationship.
“Women should have the option of having an ultrasound, not forced to undergo an unnecessary procedure prescribed by politicians,” Keene said.
[Capital News Service is an entity of Virginia Commonwealth University.]