Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia reversed his position on Wednesday on a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion, saying he wanted changes in the measure before he would sign it.
The bill had drawn intense national attention, with women’s health groups holding a large protest over the weekend and spoofs aired on left-leaning comedy news shows.
On Wednesday, Governor McDonnell, a rising star in the Republican Party who is often talked about as a candidate for vice president, yielded to that pressure, apparently with an eye to a broader national audience that might not look favorably on the passage of such a conservative bill by a legislature controlled by the governor’s party.
In a statement minutes before the House of Delegates was to debate the bill, known as Senate Bill 484, Governor McDonnell said that after discussion with physicians, lawyers and legislators, he had concluded that amendments were needed to “help clarify the purposes of the bill and reflect a better understanding of prevailing medical practices.”
A Republican delegate from Fairfax County, David Albo, said he had met with the governor, who gave him and other Republican legislators an amendment stipulating that the test be an abdominal ultrasound. The current wording requires a woman to have a probe inserted into her vagina.”