Every day that Virginia Republicans have to defend the new law requiring women to obtain an ultrasound to get an abortion, is a day Democrats think the gender gap there widens in their favor. The latest episode in the running controversy came when state Senate Democrats offered up a proposal to help women pay for the ultrasound procedure that the state’s now mandating. The Times-Dispatch reports:

      Passage of the budget bill came despite rejection of a key Democratic demand – an amendment that would have required the state or private insurers to pick up the cost of ultrasound procedures that will be required of women seeking abortions under a bill that Gov. Bob McDonnell recently signed into law. …

      Senate Democrats had sought $3 million in state funding to cover the cost of the imaging procedures for low-income women, and an agreement that insured women would have the procedure covered under their existing policies. They said approval of the amendment was critical to winning Democratic votes for the budget.

      But in the end, pressure to approve the amended $85 billion spending plan drew the support necessary to pass the evenly divided chamber, winning passage 35-4. … The House of Delegates, which already approved its own version off the budget, on Tuesday is expected to reject the Senate plan.

      Quinnipiac University found last week that by an 11-point margin, 52 percent to 41 percent, Virginians disapproved of the ultrasound law, and by 72 percent to 21 percent felt the government shouldn’t “make laws which try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds.” The poll didn’t ask about whether women who are required to get the ultrasound procedure should receive help paying for it, but it’s not hard to see how the issue overall is playing.

      It’s far too soon to say whether the effects of this debate will linger until the fall campaign. One imagines, though, that in a state where suburban, middle-class women may make the difference on Election Day, these issues aren’t helpful to the GOP.

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