But delegates and governor’s staff were scheduled to meet Tuesday night to strike a compromise after learning that some ultrasounds could be more invasive than first thought, according to two officials who were aware of the meeting but not authorized to speak about it publicly. Many of the bill’s supporters were apparently unaware of how invasive the procedure could be, one of the officials added.
The Virginia legislation has become part of the broader national debate over reproductive rights and has drawn attention to McDonnell, a rising star in his party and a possible vice presidential contender. The legislation has been the topic of cable news shows, was part of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and drew protesters to Richmond on Monday.
McDonnell’s office would say Tuesday only that the governor will “review” the bill if it is approved.
“Our position is: If the General Assembly passes this bill the governor will review it, in its final form, at that time,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said in a statement. He declined to explain the change in approach, but Virginia’s governors can sign, veto or amend legislation.
The House and Senate have approved their versions of the bill. On Tuesday, the House postponed a final vote on the legislation— as well as votes on other measures on guns and adoption — for the second day in a row.
“Something is happening,’’ Jessica Honke, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said hopefully. “It’s important for [the governor] to take a long, hard look before he actually does this.”
In recent days, abortion supporters have emphasized that women in the earliest stages of pregnancy may require a probe instead of an external test.
About 1,200 men and women held a silent protest outside the state Capitol on Monday, wearing hand-decorated T-shirts that bore such messages as “Virginia is for lovers, not probes.’’
Opponents of the measure expect to turn over petitions with 25,000 signatures on Wednesday and are planning a second rally on Thursday.
In the past week, the issue has been featured on left-leaning shows, including “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton.” And “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” arrived in Richmond on Tuesday to film.
The legislation is being used against Republicans outside of the General Assembly. National and state Democrats have criticized U.S. Senate candidate George Allen for his anti-abortion stand and have derided McDonnell, who has hit the campaign trail for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Republicans at the Capitol, however, remain optimistic that McDonnell will sign the measure.