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Va. House passes amended transvaginal ultrasound bill

Wednesday - 2/22/2012, 5:50pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Virginia Republican legislators have dropped a bitterly contested requirement that women seeking abortions undergo invasive ultrasound imaging, likely dooming the bill.

The Republican-ruled House of Delegates voted 65-32 for an amended bill that requires only an external ultrasound, not the vaginal insertion of a wand-like device that emits ultrasonic waves.

The House amended the bill minutes after Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell came out against mandating the more invasive procedure. McDonnell shifted ground after the proposal drew outrage from women, national ridicule from television comedians and appeals from GOP moderates.

The amended bill now returns to the Senate where its sponsor, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she will strike the legislation. A House version, by Del. Kathy Byron, is pending before a Senate committee.

McDonnell issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying no Virginia woman should be required to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.

The social conservative appealed for amendments to the bitterly contested bill to make a transvaginal ultrasound optional for women seeking abortions. In the procedure, a wand-like device is inserted and used to send out sound waves.

"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure," McDonnell says.

Instead, McDonnell is asking "that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age."

"The government will have no role in that medical decision," he says.

McDonnell, who has been mentioned often as a potential vice presidential candidate, had originally backed the bill.

Read the full statement by Gov. Bob McDonnell below:

Statement from Va. Gov. McDonnell

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WTOP's Hank Silverberg and The Associated Press contributed to this story. Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)