As initially proposed, last year’s bill would have required women to undergo a vaginal ultrasound before an abortion, and for the technician to offer a view of the fetus to the woman. It was later amended to require women to undergo an abdominal ultrasound and be offered a view of that image. That change made the law less physically invasive but probably rendered the test useless, since the fetus is too small to be seen via an abdominal test in the early stages of pregnancy, when most abortions take place.
“It was a mandate, and Ken Cuccinelli is very consistent in his view on the role of government,” said Chris LaCivita, Cuccinelli’s top political consultant. “He was opposed to the mandate last year and is opposed to it this year.”
Northam proposed three bills this session to eliminate or soften the law. Two of them — one calling for its repeal, another preventing the state from requiring medically unnecessary ultrasounds — died in committee.
His third bill would have made the ultrasound optional. It was scheduled to come before the Senate committee for a vote Thursday, but on Sunday, Northam got word that the panel would hear it Monday.
Anticipating that Cuccinelli’s office would be there to support him, Northam said he was upbeat as he walked to the meeting. But on the way there, he said he bumped into Sen. Jeffrey L. McWaters (R-Virginia Beach), one of the two senators whom Northam said the attorney general’s office had promised to lobby on the bill.
According to Northam, McWaters said he’d been approached by Cuccinelli’s office on the matter, but that it later told him that the attorney general was dropping its support.
LaCivita said Cuccinelli’s support for Northam’s bill never wavered.
McWaters, tied up in committee meetings Monday night, declined to comment through a spokeswoman. The other senator that Northam said Cuccinelli’s office said it would approach was Sen. Harry B. Blevins (R-Chesapeake). Blevins, also in meetings, did not respond to a message seeking comment.