Senate passes watered-down ultrasound bill

The State Senate voted 21-19 on Tuesday to pass an amended version of legislation mandating that women seeking abortions in Virginia first undergo an otherwise medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure.

Critics called the original version of the legislation, which had mandated an invasive transvaginal ultrasound be performed, “state rape.” State Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, called the legislation passed on Tuesday “state assault,” saying Senate Republicans “have now voted for state assault on women.”

Nineteen of the 20 members of the Senate Republican Caucus voted for the legislation – with GOP Sen. John Watkins of Chesterfield the lone Republican voting against. Two Democrats, Phil Puckett of Russell and Charles Colgan of Prince Williams, voted in favor of the legislation.

Had Puckett and Colgan voted in opposition, the bill would not have passed, perhaps muting the criticism of the Republican caucus’ role in the legislative effort.

“I’ve been here for 21 years, and I’ve seen lots of bills, and I don’t get angry often. But I’m angry now, because this bill is demeaning to women. I’m angry because it implies that women are not smart enough to realize what an abortion means. I’m angry because of the attitude it shows toward doctors. There is a presumption in this legislation that doctors are not smart enough to make the right decisions,” Howell said.

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