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UPDATE: Virginia lawmakers on Thursday voted to punt the state's so-called "personhood" bill to next year, giving the state's anti-abortion advocates their second setback in as many days.
The local CBS affiliate in Richmond reports that the state Senate voted to send the controversial proposal back to committee, a move that effectively kills the bill for the remainder of 2012. The measure, which would define the beginning of human life as at the moment of conception, was approved in the House earlier this month and a Senate committee, likewise, signed off on the effort earlier Thursday. Ultimately, however, the measure hit a round block in the upper chamber, where the vote was 24-14 in favor of preventing the bill from coming up for an up-or-down vote.
Similar personhood proposals have failed in a number of states in recent years, most recently in Mississippi, where voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have amended the state constitution. Anti-abortion state lawmakers, however, have taken up the push at the legislative level. One such effort appears on its way to passage in Oklahoma.
On Wednesday, Virginia lawmakers amended a second controversial piece of abortion-related legislation, dropping a controversial provision that would have required some women to undergo an invasive, intravaginal ultrasound before having an abortion.
Thursday, Feb. 16: Oklahoma has become the latest state to mobilize behind so-called "personhood" legislation, which would define the beginning of human life as at the moment of conception. The state Senate passed such a bill, 34-8, on Wednesday and it looks likely to sail through the House as well, the Oklahoman reports.
Virginia House legislators also passed a pair of anti-abortion bills this week, including its own personhood measure. The other bill would require women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion. A version of the ultrasound legislation has already passed the state Senate and Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the bill into law, CBS News reports.
Neither McDonnell nor Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin have weighed in on their state's respective personhood bills, but Fallin has a record of supporting anti-abortion legislation and is expected to sign it if it reaches her desk.
Both bills share similar language that grants "unborn children" at "every stage of development" the "rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons." According to Oklahoma state Sen. Brian Crain, who introduced the measure, his bill would not prohibit contraception or in vitro fertilization. Virginia's bill, however, would ban emergency contraception and some activists fear it would also clear the way for the banning of birth control pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs, Reuters reports.
A series of similar "personhood" amendments to state constitutions have failed in recent elections. After failing even in conservative Mississippi, legislators have taken up the anti-abortion strategy themselves, as anticipated by CNN soon after the Mississippi amendment failed in November 2011.