RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A bill that would define life as starting at conception is dead for this year in Virginia.
With no debate, the Senate voted 24-14 Thursday to send the so-called “personhood” bill back to committee and carry it over to 2013.
Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment of James City County made the motion to shelve the bill, saying more study is needed.
The vote came hours after the Senate Education and Health Committee endorsed the measure on an 8-7 party-line vote, with Democrats voting against it. The bill passed after an amendment clarifying that no provision in it would restrict the use of federally approved contraception.
At least three times, the committee chairman, Sen. Steve Martin, threatened to have police remove opponents of the bill after they spoke out during debate.
The committee earlier approved a bill requiring pre-abortion external ultrasound exams. It was amended to eliminate ultrasounds requiring an invasive ultrasound probe.
The “personhood” bill would give embryos the full legal protection of personhood and criminalize their destruction, outlawing almost all abortions and, critics say, some forms of contraception. It would take effect only if the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortions is overturned.
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