News Law and Policy

Virginia House Committee Quietly Kills Bill That Would Have Repealed Mandatory Ultrasound Law

Emily Crockett

In a Friday afternoon vote that allowed for neither audience testimony nor a recorded roll-call vote from its members, a Republican-dominated subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates voted against repealing the state's 2012 mandatory ultrasound law.

In a Friday afternoon vote that allowed for neither audience testimony nor a recorded roll-call vote from its members, a Republican-dominated subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates voted against repealing the state’s 2012 mandatory ultrasound law.

That law requires all women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, and is opposed by leading medical organizations because it mandates medically unnecessary procedures that only serve to increase costs for patients.

SB 617, which would have repealed this requirement, barely passed the state senate last week after a confusing series of events featuring accidental votes and a redo ended with the lieutenant governor breaking a tie.

Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle), chairman of the house’s criminal law subcommittee, said that no audience testimony would be heard on SB 617 because the bill and its house counterpart had been discussed at previous meetings. This was despite the presence of dozens of advocates both for and against the bill, and despite the ultrasound bill not having been presented before all members of the subcommittee, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

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The bill’s sponsor, Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), said in a statement that in her ten years as delegate she had never seen a piece of legislation docketed as quickly as SB 617 was.

“It is merely a tactic by the House to have this bill quickly go away and once again say to the women of Virginia that they must undergo an unnecessary medical procedure whether they want to or not,” Locke said.

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