Virginia Governor's Late Term Abortion Controversy
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Pro-life and Pro-choice supporters have been lobbying for their beliefs ever since the Supreme Court ruling in 1973, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. The decision allowed abortion to take place, but only until before the point of pregnancy that a baby could survive outside the womb as well. This viability point is usually around 24 weeks of pregnancy and any abortion after that would be considered third-trimester abortion. Only 1% of abortions occur during this time and its the only time when a fetus has neurologically developed enough to feel pain. Therefore, aborting a fetus would be illegal after viability unless there is an exceptional case of a woman’s health being at risk.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed Virginia House Bill 2491 in late January to improve women’s reproductive rights by broadening the health exceptions that would allow a woman to get a third-trimester or late-term abortion in Virginia. In the status quo, procedures to abort a fetus would only begin if the woman’s health condition was considered threatened by three doctors. With this law, that barrier would be lowered, with only the approval of one doctor being required.
Additionally, he asserts to remove the requirements of a woman getting a sonogram and ultrasound test before obtaining an abortion. Northam believes that the emotional trauma a woman faces in deciding to abort a child that late in pregnancy should be a personal decision she makes with her obstetrician, not one involving any form of government intrusion.
Is Ralph Northam Pro-Infanticide?
During a rally in Texas, President Trump responded to the proposal by stating that Governor Northam supports infanticide. He accused Northam of being heartless by saying, “The governor stated that he would even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world. And wrap the baby, and make the baby comfortable, and then talk to the mother and talk to the father and then execute the baby. Execute the baby!”
Northam stated that his words had been twisted and taken out of context by the President, who continued to accuse the governor in his State of the Union address shortly after the rally. Republicans in the chamber applauded the President while many Democratic congresswomen could be seen wearing white to symbolize women’s rights and appeared critical of his words. Trump said, “To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb.”
Moments after Trump’s words, Planned Parenthood has called the president's claim "ridiculous." Democratic legislators have also expressed their disapproval, such as Governor Cuomo of New York, stating that Trump "just proposed rolling back Roe—the law of our nation for 46 years affirmed & reaffirmed by numerous Supreme Courts." People fear that Trump may be able to threaten current abortion protections with two conservative justices on the Supreme Court, Gorusch and Kavanaugh.
On the other hand, Republicans like Senator Rubio of Florida are against Northam, posting on Twitter that he "never thought I would see the day America had government officials who openly support legal infanticide." Although we see political party divisions over every topic, the general public isn’t that divided on the issue this time.
In a survey conducted by Americans United for Life, 66 percent of pro-choice Americans expressed opposition of abortion occurring in the third trimester. However, Virginians have differing opinions as in another study conducted solely in Virginia by Schar School poll - 60% of the residents approved late-term abortion if it put a woman’s health at risk. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal opinions regarding whether or not you believe if a woman’s health outweighs her child’s health and vice versa.