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Virginia rolls ultrasound bill forward

<p>Virginia&#039;s vaginal probe ultrasound bill, as reworked by Governor Bob McDonnell, just passed the Senate 21-19.</p>

Virginia's vaginal probe ultrasound bill, as reworked by Governor Bob McDonnell, just passed the Senate 21-19. Our guest from the House of Delegates, Dave Englin, writes:

The next step is that the amended bill returns to the House for the House to either accept or reject the Senate amendments, which I expect will happen tomorrow.  I fully expect the House will accept the Senate amendments, which will then send the bill to Gov. McDonnell to sign, which I assume he will, since he wrote the bill!

In sum, Virginia Republicans took another step toward asserting the state's right to examine a woman's body before she can have an abortion. Only the vaginal probe requirement is gone.

During today's debate, Democratic state Senator Janet Howell proposed a series of amendments addressing who would pay for the examination that the state would require. Earlier this month, she linked the vaginal probe to prostate exams for men seeking Viagra. Today, Howell proposed that any ultrasound be optional. She proposed that the state pay for the exam for women who can't afford it or don't have insurance. She proposed that insurance be required to cover the exam. She proposed that if a doctor tells a woman there's evidence of severe deformities, the woman would not have to have the procedure.

The Republican majority rejected all of those ideas. They did agree to add an exception for rape and incest -- if a woman has become pregnant that way, and reported it to the police, the bill no longer asserts Virginia's right to examine her body.

Earlier today: A Virginia Senate committee voted down a proposal to end Medicaid funding for abortions in the case of severe deformities. The Richmond Times-Dispatch says the state spent $3,000 last year on 10 procedures.