RICHMOND – As public outcry to bills restricting abortion mounts, some lawmakers are hinting legislation to require ultrasounds before a woman ends a pregnancy may yet be softened or even defeated.
Two legislators — one a conservative Republican — speaking Tuesday on the condition of anonymity said one idea officials have discussed is making the ultrasound legislation optional rather than mandatory.
Other options are to pass the bills by or park them in committee. Either of those moves could effectively shelve the legislation for the year.
The House of Delegates Monday put off a decisive vote on the Senate’s ultrasound bill to mandate that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound before the procedure and be given a chance to view the fetal image and hear the heartbeat.
That bill, SB 484, is again up for a vote today.
As lawmakers paused Monday, hundreds gathered on the State Capitol grounds to protest that legislation and other measures critics see as attacks on abortion rights, including the ultrasound legislation.
Another proposal that drew their ire is HB 1, the so-called personhood bill to define life as beginning at conception.
Both the House and the Senate have passed ultrasound bills. The House version is pending in a Senate committee, as is the personhood legislation.
Supporters of the ultrasound bill say it will enhance safety for women seeking abortions.
But critics call it an invasive mandate that forces upon women an unnecessary medical procedure and interferes in the doctor-patient relationship.
-Julian Walker, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot