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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

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden raises admission $1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.

The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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