Virginia Governor Vows to Veto 20-Week Abortion Ban if Passed

Photo Credit: Kate Wellington

RICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic governor of Virginia has vowed to veto a 20-week abortion ban if it makes it to his desk this year.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe told reporters that he believes that such laws would adversely affect the state’s image and would harm business in Virginia.

“I can’t sit back and have that sitting out the same time I am traveling the globe recruiting businesses to Virginia,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “If there’s something that would be damaging toward business, and to our image around the country and the globe, I’ll veto it. You bet I will.”

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was recently proposed by Del. Dave LaRock, R–Loudoun County. It prohibits abortions after 20 weeks gestation, or five months, with the exception of medical necessity.

“No person shall perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion upon a woman when it has been determined by the physician performing or inducing or attempting to perform or induce the abortion, or by another physician upon whose determination that physician relies, that the probable postfertilization age of the woman’s unborn child is 20 or more weeks,” it reads in part.

The bill notes that “by eight weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch” and “[a]fter 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.”

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the proposal on Jan. 11, which would make performing an abortion on the 20-week child when there is no threat to the mother a class 4 felony.

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LaRock said that it is only humane to seek to restrict murder.

“It’s outrageous for a person with any compassion to turn a blind eye while this torture takes place,” he told reporters.

In addition to McAuliffe, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam has also spoken out against the bill, opining after Ohio lawmakers passed a similar measure last month that it would be wrong to disallow mothers to end their pregnancies after 20 weeks if they are told that the child is no longer viable. “Viable” simply means capable of living apart from the mother, outside of the womb.

“What they just did in Ohio, they said that they’re going to get between the doctor and the patient, and saying despite your discussion—despite what you want to do—we’re going to make you continue to carry that fetus that is no longer viable, that will not be able to take in a breath of oxygen,” he said.

But pro-life groups, such as National Right to Life, called Northam’s remarks “fear-mongering” and presenting “false narratives.”

“There’s just no question that Virginians want public policy that understands the humanity of the unborn, and I think [they’ve] been heading in that direction for a long time,” Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation also told the Burke Patch.

The concept of banning abortion after the stage of viability comes from the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.

“Physicians and their scientific colleagues have regarded [the concept of ‘quickening’] with less interest and have tended to focus either upon conception, upon live birth, or upon the interim point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable,’ … albeit with artificial aid,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the mostly Republican majority. “Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”

However, some believe that the Supreme Court’s logic was faulty and contend that gestational age does not make the child less human or unworthy of life. The film “Come What May,” produced by Patrick Henry College students, centers on this argument.

“They tear the baby out of its only means of life support, and say, ‘Wow, look at that; our machines can’t sustain it’s life,’ and somehow, that proves it’s not viable?” Caleb Hogan, played by Austin Kearney, declares in the production.

While some pro-life groups favor an incremental approach, others state that abortion should be completely outlawed rather than regulated. Jan. 22 marks 44 years since the passage of Roe, with an estimated 60 million children aborted as a result.

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