Virginia state Sen. Janet Howell, a Democrat, presents amendments to the… (Steve Helber / Associated…)
Reporting from Washington — The Virginia Senate on Tuesday approved a watered-down version of a bill to require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.
The measure passed largely on party lines by a vote of 21-19. It now heads to the House, where it must be approved before it can be signed into law by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.
The proposal sparked intense controversy earlier this month because the initial bill required trans-vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion could be performed. Critics sharply condemned the requirement as invasive and the legislation was mocked on television shows such as “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live.”
At McDonnell’s urging, the Republican-controlled General Assembly amended the bill last week to strike the requirement for trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
Before agreeing to the change, the Senate amended the bill again to exempt victims of rape and incest if they have reported the attacks to the police, according to the Associated Press. Because of the new amendment, the House must again approve the measure before it can go to McDonnell’s desk.
The Virginia Senate is divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Two Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, while one Republican opposed it.