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With Democrats now the majority in the Virginia Senate, the political dynamic took a turn for the better Thursday when two bills that would repeal abortion restrictions imposed two years ago cleared committee. The bills were approved on party-line votes in the Senate Education and Health Committee. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee they will pass the full Senate and zero they will get through the House of Delegates, which remains in control of Republicans.

Here's lowkell at Blue Virginia:

SB 617, patroned by Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), would repeal the mandatory ultrasound requirement that 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 reported 9-5, with one Republican abstaining.

SB 618, patroned by Sen. Locke and Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) and co-patroned by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), would enable Virginia women to buy insurance that covers abortion on Virginia's health exchange, provided that the coverage is paid for with their own money and not with public funds. The bill reported 9-6.

Said Sen. Locke, "Over the last few years, we've seen exactly what Republicans' regressive policies mean for Virginia women. The government shouldn't force people to undergo needless medical procedures, and it shouldn't limit access to perfectly legal insurance coverage. Today, we passed two common-sense bills that begin to repair the harm Republicans have done to women's health care."

Julian Walker at the Virginian Pilot points out the barriers to getting these bills onto the desk of Gov. Terry McAuliffe:
Indeed, a House subcommittee one day earlier defeated a bill to repeal the ultrasound mandate passed two years ago amid fiery debate, raucous protests, and national media attention on a bill to make women get a vaginal ultrasound prior to an abortion.
So no legislative victory this round. But at least a smidgen of sanity has made an appearance. Elections have consequences.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:14 AM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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