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RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, March 1, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Tuesday, the Virginia state senate passed a bill requiring a mother to have an ultrasound before aborting her baby – but an amendment requested by Governor Bob McDonnell has left one of the most prominent pro-life politicians in the Old Dominion uncertain how he will vote.

The bill became a national issue as feminists claimed the bill required a transvaginal ultrasound, which they said was tantamount to “rape.” Following a media firestorm, McDonnell asked the General Assembly to amend the bill “to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily.” The amended version of the bill passed the state senate in Richmond earlier this week by a 21-19 vote, with two Democrats supporting the bill and one Republican opposing it.

Pro-life organizations around the country applauded its passage. Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, wrote in a statement her organization is “grateful that the Senate supported the right of women to have access to this critical and relevant medical information about their own bodies and their unborn children before they make the irreversible decision for an abortion.”

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However, the bill’s proponents also say McDonnell’s amendment was tactically unwise, as well as unnecessary. Last week Kristi Hamrick of Americans United for Life told LifeSiteNews.com the bill never required a transvaginal ultrasound, and that abortion supporters “completely made up” the requirement. Instead, the bill mandated Virginia’s standard of care, leaving the type of ultrasound to be used up to the physician and the patient. Pro-life activists also pointed out to a study showing that, for all their claims of “rape,” 83 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities performing early surgical abortions said they “always” performed the more accurate vaginal ultrasound prior to performing the abortions.

“The awful truth is that, in fact, the abortion procedure itself, which employs curette knifes, vacuum suction machines, and deadly drug cocktails designed solely to end her child’s life – and may also harm the mother – is far more invasive then any type of ultrasound technique to be used before an abortion,” Gans said.

Because of the bill was amended from its original form, it will be sent back to the House of Delegates, where it is expected to pass.

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However, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican from Manassas, told LifeSiteNews.com he has not yet determined whether he will support the new language.

“What I’m gonna, do, I can’t say at this point,” Delegate Marshall said.

“The way it’s written, it leaves open an opportunity for [an abortionist] to evade malpractice,” he said. “Because if you can’ t determine the gestational age in one way” – such as with a poorly performed external ultrasound – “he’s under no obligation to determine it another way.”

Marshall’s concerns were echoed by the Family Foundation, a conservative organization in Virginia, which had expressed concerns last week that proposed amendments might give abortionists a loophole to avoid doing vaginal ultrasounds in circumstances where they are clearly called for from a medical standpoint.

“If an abortionist is required to do a transabdominal ultrasound and, upon seeing no fetus, is then legally permitted to perform an abortion without any further proof of life, we have done a tremendous disservice to the health and safety of women of Virginia,” said the Foundation in a statement. 

Marshall said he supported the original ultrasound bill, because it held out “the possibility some woman may see an ultrasound and reverse on abortion.”

“That’s been lost in all this,” he said.

Delegate Marshall – who recently announced his candidacy for Virginia’s open U.S. Senate seat, being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb – told LifeSiteNews.com the amendment needlessly placed the pro-life movement on the defensive.

“Why would you write that?” he asked. “You are confirming the critics’ hysterical comment that you’re forcing women into this in the first place. Why you do something to place yourself in such a bad public relations posture, I don’t know.” 

The pro-life cause has suffered setbacks in the state capital, as well. After it passed the House of Delegates, the state senate shelved the “personhood” bill Marshall introduced until 2013.

Marshall told LifeSiteNews the state Republican leadership killed his “personhood” bill “so (Gov.) Bob McDonnell doesn’t have to answer questions about this.” McDonnell is widely rumored to be on the short list for the Republican vice presidential nomination.

Marshall added Republicans in a state senate committee killed a fetal pain bill to limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of a child’s life.

“That’s not what all these conservatives worked and fought and spent time in precincts making phone calls for,” Delegate Marshall told LifeSiteNews.com

Former Governor George Allen, who is also running for the Republican Senate nomination, has taken no position on the ultrasound bill. However, he supported Marshall’s “personhood” bill.

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