VIRGINIA

Virginia House passes controversial ultrasound bill

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The most emotionally charged bill of Virginia's 2012 General Assembly mandating ultrasound exams for women seeking abortions has cleared its final legislative hurdle and is on its way to Gov. Bob McDonnell's expected signature.

The House of Delegates voted 61-35 to concur with a Senate amendment that exempts victims of incest and rape from the mandated procedure provided they reported the assault to police.

Its sponsor, Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell, says the bill merely ensures women are informed about pregnancies they wish to abort. Democratic opponents say it demeans doctors and subjects women to emotional blackmail, logistical barriers and state-supported bullying.

The bill drew national ridicule from columnists, political talk show hosts and television comedians, and provoked Capitol Square protests - particularly from women - involving more than 1,000 people.

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