Gov. Charlie Crist today vetoed a House bill that would have required pregnant women to get an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, and for the doctor to show the patient an image of the fetus.

“The bill places an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy,” Crist wrote in his veto message. “Individuals hold strong personal views on the issue of life, as do I. However, personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary. In this case, such action would violate a woman’s right to privacy.”

Crist, who was elected governor as a Republican, is running as an independent in a three-way race for the U.S. Senate against Republican Marco Rubio, and either Kendrick Meek or Jeff Greene on the Democratic side.

The abortion bill is politically volatile, and sure to alienate Crist further from the core of his former party, while perhaps winning some admirers among Democrats, who he’ll need to recruit in order to win.

House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands said the veto was “a victory for those who hold important the causes of personal freedom and less government intrusion in people’s lives. It’s a shame that Republican legislative leaders attempted to place an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy and attempted to so wrongly and unwisely expand the role of government. I hope that the voters understand that Republican legislative leaders can’t be trusted.”

Republicans, meanwhile, said it was Crist who can’t be trusted “given that his position on abortion, like so many other issues, changes based on political convenience,” according to a statement on the Republican Party of Florida’s home page. The statement cited press reports from 2006 quoting Crist as saying he was pro-life and and would support a ban on abortions.

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