RICHMOND — An abortion restriction that Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed when he amended the state budget passed the General Assembly on Wednesday with support from Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell County.
The Senate approved the amendment 20-19 Wednesday night, after the House of Delegates approved it on a 64-30, mostly party-line vote, with Republicans in the majority.
Opponents said they were concerned that the amendment could make it unlikely that any abortions at all could be performed for Medicaid patients at the University of Virginia hospital, not even in cases where the mother’s health was in danger.
Byron said McDonnell’s amendment was consistent with federal restrictions on using government money to pay for abortions.
Under the federal Hyde Amendment, tax dollars can be used to end a pregnancy only in the case of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk.
Virginia has also allowed funding of abortion services in cases involving fetal abnormalities. Byron said McDonnell’s amendment wouldn’t change the state law.
Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, said the the governor’s amendment did not allow consideration for “gray areas” such as a troubled multiple pregnancy where removal of one or more fetuses could enhance survival for at least one child.
In House debates, McClellan said, “we see these things as black and white.” But physicians often deal with complications that make the lines hard to define, she said.
Byron said, “While I am compassionate toward the statements made, I would like to say that as an elected official, I liken it not to thinking of things as black and white, but as like a death.”