Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), speaks on the House floor Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“Abortion is a sad and deeply serious occurrence,’’ Gilbert said in a statement.  “Individuals on both sides of this issue agree that it is tragic for all involved.  I recognize that few women undergo the procedure lightly. It leaves scars, both mental and physical, that can last forever.  I regret that my comments earlier today on the House floor were insensitive to that reality.’’

Gilbert, who opposes abortion rights, shocked opponents of a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion when he said: “In the vast majority of these cases, these are matters of lifestyle convenience.”

Video of his statements were posted on the Internet, garnering national attention. Opponents mocked him on Twitter after debate was cut off.

“As this important public policy debate continues, elected representatives of the people -- starting with myself -- should remember that we are discussing a procedure that is a matter of life and death, and that it is truly heartbreaking,’’ he said.

 The House and Senate have both passed bills, largely along party lines, requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has said he would sign the measure.