In the pantheon of social and political debate, there is no issue I want to discuss less than abortion. But there are people who are forcing my hand.
I know an emotional wedge issue when I see it. I also know that debate on such issues rarely produce resolution. You can debate facts, but not feelings. That’s why I have generally sat out of the fight. But there are people who are forcing my hand.
The latest epicenter of this debate is in my home state of Virginia. A little more than a week after New York state passed a law that allows abortions through the third trimester, a similar bill was debated in the Virginia General Assembly. Thankfully, after recent renovations to the State Capitol, all subcommittee meetings feature live video. Democratic Delegate Kathy Tran of Fairfax…one of the many Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, presented the bill on Monday. Under questioning, she admitted that her bill would legally permit abortions up until the moment of birth. All that would be required is a request from the mother, coupled with a single Doctor’s determination that giving birth could impact her physical or mental health. The current threshold is that it must have a “significant and irreparable” impact—and that THREE Doctors must agree. Under Tran’s bill, most any pretense could be used to legally justify an abortion up until the millisecond before a baby draws its first breath.
On Tuesday, Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam, upped the ante. In a radio interview he defended Tran’s bill. But he took it a horrifying step further. The pediatric neurologist (yes, you read that correctly) had this to say.
“If a mother is in labor…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 & mother”
He didn’t say “fetus.” He said “infant.” That is crucial. An infant has already been born. They are no longer in the womb. They are no longer a “clump of cells,” or whatever pejorative euphemism abortion supporters call it in order to dehumanize it and help them sleep at night. The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia said that a baby OUT OF THE WOMB could be eligible to be killed at the discretion of the mother and her physician. You can spin and spin until you dig a hole to China—but that is what he said.
The backlash has been swift. It appears that arguing in favor of infanticide is frowned upon by we, the members of the hoi polloi. Richmond Del. Dawn Adams yesterday said she would not have co-sponsored the controversial abortion bill if she had read it more closely. Yea, I don’t think that makes you noble. That makes you politically savvy. And because you signed your name to a bill that you didn’t read, that makes you a poor legislator. Poor legislators make poor law. Poor law makes for a poor Commonwealth. You should resign immediately.
Owing to the complicated and emotional nature of this debate, both sides had arrived at a somewhat-uneasy truce over the past few decades. Third-trimester abortions (except in extreme circumstances) and partial-birth abortions have been legally frowned-upon; as have the prospect of any outright prohibitions on abortions in general. Roe v. Wade essentially turned the issue back over to the states, which allows for some regional autonomy.
The new law in New York and the bill in Virginia have served one good purpose. They have cleared the fog. They have removed the mask. Democrats have long since abandoned their stated goals under President Clinton to make abortion, “Safe, Legal and Rare.” Their goal now seems to have them, “sanctioned, ubiquitous and instantly-forgiven.” And taxpayer-funded where possible.
I think hard-core abortionists have taken advantage of people like me who despise abortion, but also despise government intervention in people’s lives. Our disinterest in debate has been viewed as tacit support for their efforts. I would say they have benefited from our genuflection. Now, with their magnum opus of Roe v. Wade being threatened, they are revealing what evidently has been their goal since day one. On-demand, no-apologies, any-trimester abortion under most any pretense. They have forced my hand.
The abortion issue is where we find out if conservatives are truly conservative…at least when it comes to government authority. As a libertarian, I have always believed that I could not tell someone they cannot have an abortion—and I won’t. But they have forced my hand. Mainstream abortion-rights supporters have made no secret what their real agenda is. I hate them for making me compromise my cherished libertarian principles of small government and preserving the sanctity of privacy, even if it’s only a little bit.
In my defense, those principles are based on my belief that unless you are harming someone else, the government has no business telling you what you can and cannot do. But when you argue for the right to legally crush the skull of a 40-week old who is on the verge of drawing its first breath, you are most certainly harming someone else. And (taking it further) when you argue in favor of the right to legally kill an infant based on a pretense of non-viability; it is no longer a victimless activity. As such, my personal philosophy of live and let live no longer is applicable.
Therefore, I will now personally oppose any effort to allow abortions beyond the second trimester; with exceptions offered for cases of rape and incest—and for EXTREME health risk cases that are certified by an independent panel of physicians. Furthermore, I will support efforts to make sure that abortion clinics have to meet the same guidelines that any other medical clinic would. After all, abortion rights supporters are fond of telling us that “abortion IS health care.” Agreed. Therefore, they should have to meet the same standards as any other health care provider.
The thirst with which abortion rights supporters have been pushing the envelope over the past year has turned me from a largely-disinterested observer into an opponent. You overplayed your hand. I will still fight any effort to outlaw abortions, but I will also fight efforts to make them as mainstream as appendectomies.
You have benefited from my (and others’) indifference. I hope you enjoy our interest.