Virginia Senate Puts Fetus 'Personhood' Bill on Ice
Surprise 24-14 vote follows Capitol protests
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 24, 2012 6:47 AM CST
Abortion rights supporters cry after a bill that would define life as starting at conception was approved in the state Senate committee. The 'personhood' bill has now been cast aside.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(Newser) – Virginia's state Senate made a surprise about-face yesterday: In a 24-14 vote, lawmakers effectively placed the so-called "personhood" bill, which declared that a person's rights begin from the moment sperm meets egg, on ice for the rest of 2012. Earlier that day, the Senate Education and Health Committee had narrowly voted to advance HB 1; now it heads back to the committee for review in 2013, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The "personhood" legislation had prompted hundreds to protest in front of the state Capitol yesterday.

Six Republicans were among those who voted to set the bill aside—one said the Senate couldn't act until the issues raised by physicians and constitutional scholars had been thoroughly reviewed; two Democrats abstained. Meanwhile, the Senate committee did advance an amended version of HB 462; the new version drops a requirement for an invasive transvaginal procedure. If it passes in the Senate, the bill will then return to the House of Delegates for consideration. "It's not as bad as it was when it was mandating rape," said a Democratic senator. "But it's still an abomination."