With debate stifled, panel kills ultrasound option

By By BOB LEWIS

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Republican-run Senate committee killed legislation that would have made pre-abortion ultrasound exams optional, not mandatory, after the committee chairman blocked discussion of the bill.

The hastily convened Privileges and Elections Committee special meeting lasted only minutes with Democratic Sen. Ralph Northam's bill dying on a party-line 6-3 vote.

Committee chairman Steve Martin abruptly called a vote while stifling efforts by Northam, who is a doctor, and at least one other physician to testify.

Martin, a Republican, contended the committee had already discussed the bill. It had not. So he ruled that it was so similar to other Northam bills reversing last year's ultrasound law that any distinction was irrelevant.

Northam called the meeting "a kangaroo court" and stormed from the room. He and Martin are lieutenant governor candidates.

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