Senate blocks ultrasound bill

The Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee voted Monday to stonewall legislation that would have overturned the Virginia mandate requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy. Every Republican senator in the committee voted in opposition of the bill, and three Democrats voted for the measure.

Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, sponsored the legislation — Senate Bill 1332 — but was not allowed to discuss it in front of the Republican-controlled Education and Health Committee before a vote was conducted.

In a press release from the Virginia Democratic Caucus, Northam called the vote a “sham.”

“The Republicans aren’t interested in listening,” Northam said. “They refused to let me or any witness speak about the bill.”

Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato said the political climate in the General Assembly would not allow for serious debate about measures passed in the previous legislative session.

“The last thing Republicans want to do is reopen last year’s controversies about social issues,” Sabato said in an email. “The more hot-button social issues are in the headlines, the more Democrats seem to benefit and Republicans are hurt.”

Delegate David Albo, R-Lorton, defended the ultrasound statute.

“Ultrasounds are done in nearly all abortions,” Albo said. “The statute already gives the woman the option of not viewing it.”

Besides being the sponsor of the bill, Northam is also the only physician in the Virginia Senate. The abortion bill was particularly important to the senator as he believes it would have corrected an interference with doctor-patient relationships, Northam’s campaign manager Matt Larson said.

The bill was first presented to the Senate Jan. 18.

—compiled by Julia Horowitz and Kelly Kaler

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