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Virginia's late-term abortion debate

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Feb 4, 2019
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Virginia's late-term abortion debate

Last week, Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran revived the debate about late-term abortions with her bill to loosen abortions. It sparked outrage across the country, especially on social media where I saw backlash from many conservatives as well some liberals.

As the New York Times reported: “under current law in Virginia, third-trimester abortions are permitted when a woman’s physician and two other doctors certify that continuing a pregnancy would result in a mother’s death, or “substantially and irremediably impair the mental or physical health of the woman.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/opinion/abortion-virginia-kathy-tran.html)

Since Tran’s testimony (and Governor Ralph Northam’s comments during a radio show), Tran has said that she “misspoke” during the legislative session about her bill and that she wasn’t implying infanticide in Virginia, according to the Washington Post. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/lawmaker-at-center-of-abortion-bill-firestorm-elected-as-part-of-democratic-wave-that-changed-richmond/2019/01/31/d4f76ecc-2565-11e9-90cd-dedb0c92dc17_story.html?utm_term=.5648d66facfd)

In 2017, I interviewed three women for The Guardian who made the difficult choice to terminate their wanted pregnancies, not because of continuing the pregnancy would result in the mother’s death but because taking the pregnancy to full term would give the baby little chance of survival, thriving, or any quality of life. Their decisions were not made lightly and still haunt them today. Kate Carson was the most extreme case of the three. She had an abortion at 36 weeks pregnant. Her unborn baby had numerous abnormalities but the one that cemented her decision to abort was the fact that her child would never be “comfortable enough to sleep.” (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/18/late-term-abortion-experience-donald-trump)

While sharing their harrowing experiences with me, they also spoke about how gut-wrenching it was to deal with the delays while they suffered silently with their decisions.

A recent New York Times opinion piece summarized the following: “having extra doctors sign off on each late abortion safeguards against (mythical) cavalier terminations, but it means that women in anguished, urgent situations need to jump through extra hoops. Abortion opponents treat mental health exemptions as easily exploited loopholes, but one instance in which they’re invoked is when a woman learns that her fetus has little chance of surviving outside the womb, and can’t face the prospect of going through labor only to watch her baby die.”

Should legislators, who are mostly men, have the right to tell a woman, in her third trimester, and her family, including her physician what she can and can’t do with her body? Why/why not? 

For more information about Gov. Ralph Northam’s WTOP radio interview, visit:
https://wtop.com/ask-the/2019/01/virginia-gov-northam-joins-wtop-live-jan-30/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6WD_3H0wKU

For more information about Del. Kathy Tran’s testimony, visit:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/va-del-kathy-tran-2-other-lawmakers-postpone-town-hall-over-safety-concerns/2019/02/02/45bae880-26f8-11e9-ad53-824486280311_story.html?utm_term=.f8e467f1d791

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