The question came to mind when I read the NBC News story of the debate in the Virginia Legislature over a bill requiring ultrasound imaging. There was a huge fight over the bill, as there was in Texas. But something strange happened in Virginia. Here’s the story: State Republican legislators have scrapped a bitterly contested proposal to require women seeking abortions to undergo invasive ultrasound imaging. Shortly after Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell announced his opposition to the Republican bill, the state House on Wednesday approved a substitute version that still mandates an ultrasound but makes the transvaginal procedure optional. The House of Delegates voted 65-32 for the watered-down version. Under the substitute, women would still be required to have an ultrasound before an abortion to determine the gestational age, but women subject to a transvaginal procedure would be able to decline [according to published reports–pb]. That likely dooms the measure. The amended bill now returns to the Senate where its sponsor, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she will strike the legislation. “There are moments when you are a legislator when you have to stop and you have to have a moment of real conscience,” Vogel said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I sort of had that moment this morning considering the outcome and the fate of this bill.” Can anyone imagine Dan Patrick stopping to have “a moment of real conscience?” Or Jane Nelson? Or Rick Perry? Inconceivable. It doesn’t happen here. Our politics has gone off-the-spectrum nuts. The entire 2011 session was all about pandering to the far right. That is all our politicians know how to do–or want to do. Serious legislating has left the building. I supposed I should answer my own question: When did Texas politics go completely nuts? I would say it was when Perry defeated Hutchison in the 2010 Republican primary, eliminating the constituency of moderate Republicans, particularly soccer moms, from the playing field.
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