The Virginia abortion bill, which would mandate that the women seeking an abortion get a trans-vaginal ultrasound – a forcible assault at the very least – before having the procedure, has received entirely too much notoriety for the tastes of conservative lawmakers in the state. I’m sure they were hoping to fly under the radar with this bill, one of the most offensive of the anti-abortion bills we’ve seen since the conservative takeover of many state legislatures in 2010.

The clumsy way in which conservatives have attempted to defend the legislation hasn’t helped. Economics professor Tyler Cowen’s tweet (“All of a sudden requiring consumers to be informed is extremely unpopular on ‘the pro-regulation side.’”) generated richly deserved outrage. And tea party favorite Dana Loesch took the position that once a women loses her virginity, she gives up the right to determine what should penetrate her vagina for the rest of her life.

Today, as Laura Conaway reports, protesters held a silent demonstration outside the Virginia legislature, which was enough for them to delay the vote on the measure.

The Capitol ground rules say that we cannot assemble, hold signs, chant, yell or protest. We think silence in the face of this struggle and their unconstitutional rules presents the strongest response to their assault on women. Please come out and stand up for our rights and for the rights of all women in VA to choose the best reproductive route for themselves. These people are used to signs, yelling, chanting etc. It is not new. They are not used to silently being stared at and having to look us in the eye. It gives us the power.

Several hundred people came out to the rally and stood silently. And the lawmakers blinked, by delaying the vote in the House of Delegates.

The chamber pushed back votes on a measure that would require an ultrasound of all women considering an abortion as well as adoption- and gun-related legislation.

All three were Senate bills, meaning House passage would ensure that they go to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk. The House has already passed similar versions of each.

McDonnell’s spokesman has backed away from saying that the Governor would definitely sign the vaginal penetration bill. And a new poll in the state shows it to be unpopular, with 55% opposed to the legislation and only 36% in support.

Lawmakers in Virginia don’t face re-election until 2013, and Governor McDonnell, who may have designs on higher office, will be termed out at that time. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t read a poll and know when they’ve gone too far. Stay tuned.