By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Friday he backed away from a bill requiring women to undergo an invasive procedure before receiving an abortion because he believed it might not have withstood legal scrutiny.

McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, addressed the matter at a panel hosted by Politico. It was his first extensive comments since asking lawmakers this week to drop a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to submit to a vaginal ultrasound procedure. The bill drew sharp opposition from Democrats and women’s groups and was lampooned on national late night comedy shows.

“I support the bill. I still support the bill. That never forfeits a governor’s rights to make amendments,” McDonnell said, adding he had not initiated the legislation and that it was pushed by legislators instead.

The bill would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo a procedure in which a wand is inserted in the vagina to yield an image of the fetus. McDonnell supported the bill as it was originally written but asked lawmakers Wednesday to amend it to require noninvasive ultrasound instead.

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