Republican-Controlled Subcommittee Votes Against Ultrasound Repeal

SB 617 tabled on Friday afternoon one day after major snow storm

RICHMOND, VA This afternoon, the Republican-dominated Criminal Law Subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted to table a bill that would have ended the requirement that women seeking an abortion in Virginia undergo a mandatory ultrasound.

SB 617, patroned by Senator Mamie Locke (D – Hampton), would repeal the mandatory ultrasound requirementthat Republicans passed in 2012. Under that law, women seeking an abortion must submit to an abdominal ultrasound — regardless of their wishes, and regardless of the wishes of their doctors.

The bill was heard on a Friday afternoon one day after a major snow storm, and the subcommittee’s decision was made by voice vote; the votes of individual delegates were not recorded. Supporters of the bill were not permitted to testify, although they were allowed to stand, identify themselves, and register their support.

Said Sen. Locke, “We should all be able to agree that the decision to seek an abortion is a private matter between a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor. The ultrasound requirement is designed to shame, judge, and delay a woman’s access to the health care she seeks, and I’m deeply disappointed that the subcommittee voted to continue mandating an unnecessary medical procedure.”

Outside groups that appeared in support of the bill include NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Progress Virginia, the Richmond Medical Center for Women, the League of Women Voters, the Virginia ACLU, the Medical Society of Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.

The McAuliffe administration also registered its support.

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