WASHINGTON — Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell says 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 discussed the matter Friday at a panel hosted by Politico. It was his first extensive comments since asking lawmakers to amend a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to submit to a vaginal ultrasound. The bill drew sharp opposition from Democrats and women’s groups.

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McDonnell said he consulted with doctors and lawyers including the state’s attorney general before concluding the bill would likely face constitutional challenges. The bill was changed to require noninvasive ultrasounds.

McDonnell has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate in 2012 and potential future presidential contender.