RICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has signed into a law a bill that repeals several abortion regulations in the state, making it easier for women to end the lives of their unborn children.
“No more will legislators in Richmond — most of whom are men — be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” Northam said in a statement. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.”
Senate Bill 733 and House Bill 980, also known as the “Reproductive Health Protection Act” and sponsored by Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, remove requirements for mothers to obtain an ultrasound and to wait 24 hours before proceeding with an abortion.
They also allow nurse practitioners who are licensed by the Virginia boards of Medicine and Nursing to perform first trimester abortions.
“[I]t shall be lawful for any physician licensed by the Board of Medicine to practice medicine and surgery, or any person jointly licensed by the Boards of Medicine and Nursing as a nurse practitioner and acting within such person’s scope of practice, to terminate or attempt to terminate a human pregnancy or aid or assist in the termination of a human pregnancy by performing an abortion or causing a miscarriage on any woman during the first trimester of pregnancy,” the bills read.
McClellan and Herring referred to abortion as “medical” and “healthcare” decisions in a statement released by Northam’s office, in which the existing abortion regulations were referred to as being “anti-woman.”
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the bill was highly debated in the legislature, and was only passed after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Roman Catholic, broke a 20-20 tie in January by voting in favor of the measure.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, drew controversy last year after suggesting that babies born with severe deformities or terminal conditions may be allowed to die post-natally, if such is decided between the mother and her doctor.
“When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physician — more than one physician, by the way — and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s non-viable,” he said during a radio interview with WTOP.
“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 outlined.
Northam’s remarks surrounded a bill proposed by Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, which would have made it easier for an unborn baby to be killed up until birth should the pregnancy “impair the mental health of the woman.”
“How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?” asked House Majority Leader and Subcommittee Chairman Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.
“Or physical health,” Tran inserted.
“Okay. I’m talking about the mental health,” Gilbert noted.
“So, I mean, through the third trimester,” Tran replied. “The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.”
Gilbert then asked if that includes the end of the third trimester.
“Yep,” Tran confirmed. “I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.”
Gilbert, continuing to seek clarification, presented the scenario of a woman who is in labor.
“Where it’s obvious a woman is about to give birth — she has physical signs that she is about to give birth, would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so certified?” he inquired. “She’s dilating.”
Tran, appearing uncomfortable, responded that the matter would be up to the attending physician. Gilbert interjected that he was rather wondering if Tran’s bill would allow for such a situation.
“My bill would allow that, yes,” she admitted.
The measure, House Bill 2491, was subsequently struck down by Republicans in committee.
Virginia law currently allows for third trimester abortions, but with the agreement of three doctors that, absent an abortion, the pregnancy will “substantially and irremediably impair the mental or physical health of the woman.” The abortion must also be performed in a hospital.
Tran’s bill would have removed the mandate that there be a consensus among three physicians and that the abortion take place in a hospital.
Many Christians are opposed to merely regulating abortion but believe it should be made illegal altogether. However, Northam and Tran’s comments have been highlighted by pro-life groups to note the mindsets of abortion advocates.
The late preacher Lee Roy Shelton wrote in “The Crimes of Our Times” in a section on abortion:
“When killing anyone, the murderer is guilty of taking the life which God has given, and therefore he is ‘playing God’ by saying when and how a man should die. But God doesn’t look lightly upon those who try to take His place.”
“God has given us the Sixth Commandment as a fence about human life to preserve it, for it is sacred to Him. Yes, the Bible declares human life to be sacred. It is a divine creation, mysterious and magnificent in its beginning and possibility, utterly beyond the control or comprehension of any human being. It is never to be taken away at the will of anyone, for how can they tell the full meaning of that life and what it will bring forth?”
“The revelation of God made to man out of His blessed Word proves that He has purposes for every individual and for the [human] race, stretching far beyond the present moment or manifestation; and to terminate a single life is to set yourselves up as wiser and superior to God. The immensity of the issues of death is so great that there can be no sin against humanity, and accordingly, against God, greater than that of taking a human life.”
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