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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

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. 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.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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