A bill that would increase state regulation of abortion clinics won approval in a House committee yesterday and will go to the floor for a vote by the full House of Delegates.

What Happened: The House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee debated several bills sponsored by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) that would impose new levels of regulation on clinics that provide abortion services. Marshall withdrew one, and the panel rejected another before voting 14 to 8 for the third, the least restrictive of the bills. The measure is one of many bills on abortion services that were submitted for consideration by the 2003 General Assembly.

The Bill: House Bill 2367 would require all abortion clinics, defined as any facility, other than a hospital or an ambulatory surgery center, in which 25 or more first-trimester abortions are performed per 12-month period, to be licensed and to comply with the requirements for ambulatory surgery centers.

Pros and Cons: Proponents say that the licensing requirements and increased scrutiny on clinics would improve health standards and protect women's health. Opponents say the real purpose of the bill is to block abortions by making it virtually impossible for health care workers to perform them.