The Washington Post

Antiabortion bill killed by Va. Senate committee

The Senate Finance Committee killed a bill Tuesday that would have prevented poor women whose fetuses have gross mental and physical abnormalities from using state funds for abortions.

Protesters line Nineth Street in front of Capitol Square in Richmond last week to protest antiabortion legislation. (Bob Brown/AP)

It was one of several antiabortion bills suddenly derailed in the Virginia General Assembly over the last week.

Acting on a motion from Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), the committee voted 10-5 to pass the bill by indefinitely.

The bill had already passed the House. It had narrowly passed the Senate’s Education and Health Committee earlier this month, but the full Senate later referred it to the finance committee to review its fiscal impact.

Finance committee members were told Tuesday morning that it would be difficult to assess the fiscal impact of refusing to provide state funds to allow Medicaid-eligible expectant mothers to terminate pregnancies because of gross deformities. Over the past two years, 32 women met that criteria.

Finance committee staff said it was unclear how to compute the fiscal impact because the state would likely bear long-term costs of providing medical and other services to children that might be carried to term if state funding for abortions were withdrawn.

Last week, the so-called personhood bill, which would have defined a fertilized egg as a person, was killed. Another, which would have required that most women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion, was softened to make that invasive procedure optional.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.



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