Don’t Let Ralph Northam’s Racism Controversy Obscure Democrats’ Sickening Abortion Policies

Don’t Let Ralph Northam’s Racism Controversy Obscure Democrats’ Sickening Abortion Policies

Gov. Ralph Northam’s political career may be dead, but Virginia law still allows abortionists to kill newborns by withholding medical care.
Margot Cleveland
By

Last week’s outrage over Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s statement that babies born alive following a botched abortion could be allowed to die quickly evaporated when a racist photograph from Northam’s medical school yearbook began circulating. Northam quickly apologized for the picture, only to later backtrack, claiming that he was not the man in blackface or hidden beneath a Ku Klux Klan hood, but had darkened his face for a Michael Jackson costume that same year and thus his confusion.

Either way, Northam’s political career is over: Even if Northam does not resign, he’s the lamest of lame ducks. While Democrats may not be happy with Northam for dragging out the inevitable and hurting their brand in the meantime, the uproar over Northam’s past succeeded in diverting attention from media’s focus on the party’s extreme abortion position.

Yet, even without the straight-talking Northam to expose the barbarity of late-term abortions, the extreme laws the Democratic Party supports remain unchanged. And those laws are even more horrific than even Northam’s comments revealed.

Those comments came last week in a radio interview, when Northam was asked whether he supported state Del. Kathy Tran’s late-term abortion bill, which, as Tran acknowledged during committee debate, would allow an abortion at full-term even if the mother had already started labor.

Northam told the radio host: “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.”

The sub-committee tabled Tran’s bill. But many fail to realize that Northam’s statement that “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired” applies equally to Virginia’s current abortion law. Under both current law and Tran’s proposed amendment, following an abortion, if there is “any clearly visible evidence of viability,” the abortionist must provide “life support.”

But nothing in the law requires the doctor to first resuscitate the newborn infant or to provide other ordinary care necessary to allow the infant to survive. Nothing also prevents the mother, who had just attempted to abort her now-newborn, from directing the hospital staff to abide by a do not resuscitate order.

That is why, on the heels of Northam’s comments, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Born-Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act for fast-track passage. This proposed legislation would require any health care practitioner present at the time a baby is born alive following an attempted abortion to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” If passed, this law would prevent Northam types from leaving a newborn to die because that was the mother’s desire.

Backlash over Northam’s comments sent the left into a full-spin zone. Northam himself said “I don’t have any regrets, but I do regret how my comments have been mischaracterized,” sticking to his claim that third-trimester abortions are only done in cases involving “severe deformities.” Defenders of Northam’s statements likewise pretended that the only babies to survive abortions will be those who bear a condition “incompatible with life” or with “severe deformities,” and thus any medical care for such a child would be futile.

This position is both legally and factually wrong. Legally, Virginia law permits abortions of healthy, viable fetuses up to the point of delivery, if three physicians state that “continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the death of the woman or substantially and irremediably impair the mental or physical health of the woman.”

While proponents of this provision paint the abortion as necessary to preserve the life of the mother, there is no reason such babies could not be delivered alive as opposed to delivered after they are killed. Further, the current law allows abortion based on mental health, not merely physical health, and mental health is often loosely interpreted.

Tran’s proposed amendments would make it easier to obtain a late-term abortion in Virginia by expanding the legality of late-term abortions to circumstances in which one doctor certified that continuing the pregnancy would “impair” the “mental health” of the woman. Virtually any stress or anxiety caused by the pregnancy could qualify as impairing the mother’s mental health, making Tran’s proposed amendment one that would, in essence, allow abortion on demand to the point of birth, including of healthy and viable fetuses.

While Tran’s bill was tabled, Virginia law still allows exactly the scenario that outraged Americans: the abortion of full-term fetuses after labor had begun. Further, although Virginia has not yet allowed any mental health condition to justify such barbaric practices, New York has: Less than two weeks ago, to cheering adulation, New York’s Democrat governor signed into law the so-called Reproductive Health Act.

That law allows abortions for any reason prior to 24 weeks of gestation, which given scientific advancements of late will include some viable fetuses. The statute also legalizes abortions to the moment of birth if a “practitioner” believes it necessary “to protect” the patient’s health. Again, the squishy definition of mental health will suffice to allow the killing of a fully formed and viable fetus.

Defenders of New York’s law and Virginia’s legislation nonetheless seek to justify late-term abortions as only occurring in cases of “severe deformities.” Factually, this claim is also false. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute admits, citing its own research, that “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” Further, “fetal anomaly” would include such non-severe situations, such as a cleft palate or a club foot—“deformities” most Americans would be horrified to learn are used to justify a late-term abortion.

If abortion activists want to defend their laws based on fake facts, conservatives need to call them out. We may no longer have Northam’s horrifying soundbite to question Democrats on their view of infanticide, but we still have the law—a law that permits the killing of full-developed, healthy, and viable fetuses until the moment of birth.

Ask Democrats about their support for that law. When they obfuscate, ask whether they would support a law prohibiting late-term abortion absent the so-called severe deformities they hide behind. Their answer will expose them as both pro-eugenics and pro-abortion extremists.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and current adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

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