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Legislators craft less invasive ultrasound bill

Both chambers of the General Assembly started revising legislation forcing women to get a fetal ultrasound before an abortion after Gov. Bob McDonnell persuaded lawmakers not to require a vaginal probe as part of the procedure.

That change was reflected in the revised version of House Bill 462 that the Senate Education and Health Committee approved Thursday on an 8-7 party-line vote. This measure, sponsored by Delegate Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg, will go before the full Senate next week.

McDonnell’s recommendation, requiring a “transabdominal” ultrasound but not a “transvaginal” one, also was adopted when the House voted 65-32 Wednesday to modify and approve Senate Bill 484.

On Friday, the Senate was ready to consider the change that the House had made to SB 484. But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester, withdrew the measure.

Originally, both HB 462 and SB 484 required an ultrasound that would establish the gestational age of the fetus. In many cases, this would require a transvaginal procedure. Republican legislators supporting the legislation faced criticism from Democrats and women’s groups and were the target of jokes on national television shows.

Before Wednesday’s vote, McDonnell asked that the legislation be changed to eliminate the requirement for a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion.

“It is clear that in the majority of cases, a routine external, transabdominal ultrasound is sufficient to meet the bills’ stated purpose, that is, to determine gestational age,” McDonnell said in a prepared statement.

“I have come to understand that the medical practice and standard of care currently guide physicians to use other procedures to find the gestational age of a child when abdominal ultrasounds cannot do so.”

The modifications made by GOP lawmakers at the governor’s request did not appease Democrats.

Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, said McDonnell’s amendments to the bills make them “no less egregious or intrusive.”

Delegate Mark Sickles of Franconia also spoke out against the bills.

“The entire nation is now looking in and learning each day about our misplaced priorities,” said Sickles, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus.
“This most personal government intervention was not asked for, is unnecessary, and should be vetoed when it reaches Gov. McDonnell’s desk.”

The Virginia Society for Human Life said it hoped the General Assembly would pass a law to “give women a greater degree of information and protection from unscrupulous abortionists.”

“The Virginia Society for Human Life supports the right of women to see an ultrasound and hear her baby’s heartbeat before undergoing the far more dangerous and invasive procedure of an abortion, the same procedure which is always a deadly one for her unborn child,” said Olivia L. Gans, the group’s president.

Under the legislation, after performing a fetal ultrasound, medical professionals would offer the woman an opportunity to view the sonogram image and hear the fetal heartbeat. A printout of the ultrasound image would be kept in the woman’s medical records.

How they voted
Here’s how the House voted Wednesday on “SB 484 Abortion; informed consent.”
YEAS – Albo, Anderson, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Byron, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, J.A., Cox, M.K., Crockett-Stark, Dudenhefer, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Hugo, Iaquinto, Ingram, Johnson, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Massie, Merricks, Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris, O’Bannon, O’Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pogge, Poindexter, Putney, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Stolle, Tata, Villanueva, Ware, R.L., Watson, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker – 65.
NAYS – BaCote, Brink, Bulova, Carr, Dance, Englin, Filler-Corn, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., James, Joannou, Keam, Kory, Lewis, Lopez, May, McClellan, McQuinn, Morrissey, Plum, Rust, Scott, J.M., Sickles, Spruill, Surovell, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, O., Watts – 32.
ABSTENTIONS – Marshall, R.G. – 1.
NOT VOTING – Alexander, Purkey – 2.
Delegate Alexander was recorded as not voting. Intended to vote nay.

Here’s how the Senate Education and Health Committee voted on “HB 462 Abortion; informed consent.”
Feb. 23 –Senate: Reported from Education and Health with substitute (8-Y 7-N)
YEAS – Martin, Newman, Blevins, Smith, McWaters, Black, Carrico, Garrett – 8.
NAYS – Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Locke, Barker, Northam, Miller, J.C. – 7.


Community

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

Equestrian clinic planned July 7-8 in Henrico

Henrico equestrians interested in deepening the bond between themselves and their horses have the opportunity to attend a two day clinic, held at Steppin’ High Stables on July 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic, “Become Partners with your Horse,” will be taught by multiple world champion equestrienne Terry Preiser and will focus on how riders and horses can work together to achieve more. > Read more.

Henrico school bus driver honored

The Henrico-based Hephaestus Society recently awarded its first annual community heroes award (the Hephaestus Award) to Hicham Elgharouch (pictured, center) for what it termed his "selfless acts of caring" in his duties as a Henrico County Public Schools bus driver. Henrico County Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis, joined Hephaestus Society President Travis Gardner, in presenting the award and an accompanying $1,500 check to Elgharouch last month.

Elgharouch was selected for his clear and demonstrated patience and for his infectious positive attitude, according to the society. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Don’t party too hard on the Fourth because a whole weekend of fun events await! Enjoy a classy date night without the kids at James River Cellars Winery’s second annual Smoke and Vine Festival. Another date night option is at the Richmond Funny Bone, where comedian April Macie will perform all weekend. The kids have their own options this weekend as well. Choose from storytime at Tuckahoe and Twin Hickory libraries or family-oriented karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House – I hear they have hits from Disney’s “Frozen.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


This weekend has something for everyone in your family – whether it’s improv comedy with ComedySportz or West End Comedy, or an inspirational concert from the Ezibu Muntu African Dance Company! Families will also enjoy music, games and crafts at Hidden Creek Park or reading to a therapy dog at Glen Allen Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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