As the Virginia Senate killed a key part of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s education reform plan Thursday, women’s-rights activists were protesting his signature on a bill requiring women to get an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion.
The education bill, which would have made it easier to fire teachers by moving from a tenure-based to a short-term contract system, was rejected, 23-17. Three Republicans joined Democrats to send the bill back to the education and health committee. It won’t come up again until next year’s session.
“Today’s vote is a delay; it is not a defeat,” McDonnell said in a statement reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch
. “Increased accountability in our public education system and in government in general is an idea whose time has come.”
As the Senate was shelving the education measure, women's-rights protesters held a candlelight demonstration outside the governor’s mansion, the Times-Dispatch
reported. Some 200 women showed up Thursday night to protest what they called “the loss of reproductive rights” in Virginia.
Many carried petitions signed by about 33,000 women from around the state voicing opposition to the ultrasound bill and the so-called “personhood” bill that would have identified life as beginning at conception.
One of the protesters, Olivia Hall, told the Times-Dispatch that the ultrasound bill set a dangerous precedent that should concern people on both sides of the abortion issue.
“Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, you should be concerned that the government is mandating a medical procedure,” Hall said.
The abortion issue has become a hot one for McDonnell, who is often talked about as a possible GOP vice presidential candidate. A Romney supporter, the governor has been peppered with as many questions lately about the ultrasound bill and other controversial Republican measures as he has about the Romney campaign.
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