A Senate committee approved a measure Thursday that would require women to undergo external ultrasounds before abortions— but not the more invasive type of ultrasound in which a wand is inserted into the vagina.
On Wednesday, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), an abortion opponent who had initially supported legislation that would have required the internal ultrasounds, asked lawmakers to amend the measure after he learned how intrusive the tests are. The external ultrasound requires a woman to remove her clothing so that an imaging device can be used on her abdomen.
House members approved the governor’s amendments Wednesday afternoon. That bill will likely die because the sponsor, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), said she would ask it be stricken.
The Senate committee voted along party lines to approve an amended version of the bill. Sen. Harry Blevins (R-Chesapeake), the swing vote on the committee, left the room during the vote but left his proxy to approve the bill.
‘The best choice is an informed choice,’’ said Del. Kathy Byron (R-Campbell), who introduced one of the bills.
The Senate Education and Health Committee, which is hearing the ultrasound and personhood bills as well as a slew of other contentious measures, was packed Thursday morning. Hundreds of people filled the room while dozens of people are waiting in the hall to get in the door.
Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) asked if Byron introduced the bill to discourage abortions.
“Absolutely not,’’ Byron responded. Members of the audience laughed.
The bill has been derided on TV, including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Saturday Night Live,” and was the subject of protests on Capitol Square this week. Another protest is scheduled for Thursday.