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Afternoon Read: "Personhood" Bill Spiked 'Til Next Year

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    It’s clear that after Thursday, the Virginia GOP is done with high-profile social issues and instead wants to focus on economic concerns and other state policies for the rest of the legislative session.

    Today was a roller coaster day for Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Virginia GOP.

    First, a senate subcommittee narrowly passed a personhood bill that would have granted “unborn children at every stage of development” the same rights as people.

    After the vote, The Post reports that a bunch of crying and screaming women poured into the Hall in protest screaming, “Shame!”

    Then, in a rather unexpected move, Sen. Thomas K. Nortment Jr., the Republican leader of the Senate, supported a Democrat motion that asked that the bill be sent back to committee and postponed until 2013 for further examination. A majority of the chamber followed suit.

    This is the second time this week that Republicans have seemingly backed away from a high-profile abortion bill after receiving criticism nationwide for the legislation.

    This personhood bill took a back seat to proposed legislation that would have required women to get a transvaginal ultrasound prior to an abortion.

    After being mocked by many national media outlets, Gov. McDonnell issued an extensive statement saying he was not initially aware of just how invasive the ultrasound was.

    “I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision.”

    A watered down version of the bill that said women would have the option of a transvaginal ultrasound if a more typical abdominal ultrasound did not suffice.

    In regards to the “personhood” bill, Democrats argued that it would have opened the doors for the illegalization of abortion at conception since life would be defined as starting at conception.

    Republicans responded by saying that this was not the case, and since abortion was legal in the state, the bill would have been more symbolic than anything else.

    The Washington Examiner reports that the bill would have opened the door for wrongful death suits in cases where a fetus is killed as the result of a reckless act, such as a drunk driver striking a vehicle with a pregnant woman.

    The RTD said that all of this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the governor.

    “The Republican's perceived flip-flop on an ultrasound requirement for women seeking abortions could not have come at a worse time -- for his governorship, his vice-presidential ambitions and his image as a non-threatening conservative.”

    But the governor struck back this afternoon and changed the subject by blasting Democrat senators because it has been reported that they might not support the spending plan proposed by the chamber.

    Demorats are trying to broker a power-sharing agreement with the GOP whereby they would exchange key budget votes in exchange for a restructuring of committees that would give Dems more power.

    The RTD reported the governor saying:

    "The only conclusion I can come to is that this is a partisan play to be able to use the 20 votes they've got to be able to slow down the budget process so that they can try to get better committee assignments. And that's outrageous.

    * GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House committee that oversees the District, proposed to allow the District to spend its local tax dollars with approval from Congress. This would allow the District to continue if there is ever a government shutdown and would let local elected officials set their own fiscal year.

    The AP reports that McDonnell supports this, and said he is particularly concerned with how a government shutdown would impact the Metro system and the more than 100,000 Virginians who use it to commute to work in the District.

    * Gov. Martin O’Malley tried to get lawmakers today to support the offshore wind power industry because the economic and environmental benefits would outweigh the cost to rate payers.

    From the Washington Post:

    “It is projected that offshore wind could put 1,300 moms and dads to work during the five-year construction period. After that it will directly support 250 permanent jobs and indirectly support 230 more,” O’Malley told members of the House Economic Matters Committee.