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RICHMOND — A bitterly divided Virginia Senate approved a new law Thursday that would force abortion clinics to meet the same regulatory and architectural requirements as outpatient surgical centers — a long sought goal of abortion opponents that abortion rights advocates say could close 17 of the state’s 21 outpatient clinics.

Democrats hold a 22 -18 edge in the Senate, but two Democrats oppose abortion and voted for the bill. The 20-20 tie sent the decision to Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who voted in favor of the bill.

Senate Democrats blasted the proposal during debate, recalling the days when abortion was outlawed and desperate women were forced to use “coat hangers” or venture into “back alleys” to find someone to terminate apregnancy.


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