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The Blue & Gray Press | April 19, 2019

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Virginia’s new abortion bill sparks controversy

Virginia’s new abortion bill sparks controversy

By MIKAYLA MCDONALD

Staff Writer

On Jan. 29, 2019, Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran (VA-42) introduced House Bill No. 2491, which would technically allow an abortion to be performed just moments before the birth of a baby. 

Under Virginia law, late-term abortions are permitted, but there is restrictive language that places boundaries on these cases. The current Virginia code states that late term abortions are only permissible in occurrences where a mother’s life and/or health would be “substantially and irremediably” harmed by allowing the pregnancy to go to full term.

Additionally, the law stipulates that at least three physicians must sign off on the legitimacy of the procedure as bounded by law. Tran’s proposal attempted to remove the instructive verbiage “substantially and irredeemable” from the books as well as only requiring one physician to sign off on the validity of the life and health assertions. Lastly, Tran’s bill would have allowed for second-trimester abortions to be performed in clinics, as opposed to hospitals, which the state law currently requires. 

I do not support Virginia’s current stance on abortion and certainly was not enthralled with the introduction of a bill that further loosened the legal constraints on unfettered abortions. I believe that life begins at conception, so unborn babies are human beings with a right to life. 

I do believe, however, that there are exceptions in which abortion could be considered, such as rape, incest and extreme instances where a woman’s life is endangered. In these rare events, choice was not part of the equation. Instead, it was foisted upon her. A woman’s choice is certainly a key element in determining the eventual outcome of the dilemma that she is facing. She has choices of aborting the unborn baby, going through with the pregnancy and keeping the baby, or even better, adoption.

Tran’s bill generated immediate and intense backlash from the pro-life community after the Virginia House GOP shared video of Tran’s presentation of her bill before the legislative committee. Under questioning from House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, Tran clearly stated during her presentation that her bill does not place a limit on how late into a pregnancy an abortion could take place. Tran further exacerbated the issue by linking the mental health of the prospective mother as a determining factor that an unborn baby which is otherwise viable should be aborted instead.

In the days following the drama generated by the debate over Tran’s bill, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam went on WTOP to defend Tran.  

During his Wednesday morning radio appearance, the Governor implied that he supported abortion up until birth. I found this to be a remarkable stance, considering that the Governor is a pediatrician.

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam stated. 

Another part of the late-term abortion argument seems to center on medical necessity in certain cases. Although I clearly comprehend the dangers pregnancy can pose for women, I find it hard to support the notion that a third-trimester abortion is ever a medical necessity.  

If there is indeed something that is threatening a women’s life during a pregnancy, I would agree that the pregnancy should be terminated. However, there are two ways one can terminate a third-trimester pregnancy; either abort the baby (kill the baby) or deliver the baby (give life a chance).  

Delegate Tran and Governor Northam seem to endorse late-term abortion with little regard to the fact that a third-trimester fetus is often viable outside the womb. Like many proponents of abortions within the framework of women’s rights, they fail to recognize the baby’s rights.

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