Just on the heels of New York legitimizing abortions up to the point of birth, Virginia came close to following suit. State House Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Springfield) introduced her REPEAL Act (HB2491) on January 9, along with 24 other Democrats as patrons. Had this bill been signed into law, Virginia would have repealed not only the prohibition against abortion beyond a certain point, but even the requirements that such procedures take place in a real hospital or be conducted by actual doctors.
The bill is titled the REPEAL Act because that is precisely what it does.
The House Committee on Courts of Justice Subcommittee #4 recommended “laying on the table,” and voted five to three to do so Jan. 28. While the bill has been tabled – a state in which many would-be laws die as time leaves them behind – that doesn’t mean it’s quite dead yet. Rather than vote on the issue itself, delegates opted to put off consideration of the bill – perhaps to be resumed at a later date, and perhaps not. Virginia currently has a Republican majority in both houses, a seemingly unfriendly environment for such a proposal, certainly – but what happens when that eventually changes?
The bill is titled the REPEAL Act because that is precisely what it does. It repeals the requirement that an abortion in either the second or third trimesters take place in a hospital. It would allow licensed medical professionals – nurses – who aren’t actual doctors to perform the procedure, and wouldn’t require that an ultrasound, waiting period, or consultation with other physicians occur first. This bill cuts the language classifying facilities that perform five or more abortions per month as hospitals, allowing them to skate by without complying to the more strictly regulated standards. It even removes the requirement that a minor obtain parental permission before terminating a pregnancy.
A Bill for Abortionists, not Women
The REPEAL Act grants medical professionals in general – not doctors or even OB/GYNs specifically – the authority to determine that continuing the pregnancy is a threat to either the woman’s physical or mental health – with no requirement that the condition be terminal or irreversible, or even that it be some issue not treatable by delivering the baby early rather than killing it. There are no restrictions included that would limit the number of potential mental health issues that might then lead to the medically unnecessary killing of an unborn child.
Yes, but who would certify that some random mental issue might necessitate an abortion, you might ask? How about the licensed medical professionals at abortion clinics? Recall that this doesn’t have to be diagnosed by an actual doctor, and that the procedure doesn’t have to take place in a real hospital.
How does removing the safeguards that ensure women who experience complications in their late term abortions have emergency treatment options protect women or affirm their rights? It doesn’t. It protects and affirms the rights of abortionists to ply their trade and make their profit.
No Medical Reason
Since the passing of New York’s new law, several doctors and nurses have since spoken up. Dr. Omar Hamada of Tennessee tweeted:
I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt.
I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies.
There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.
— Omar L. Hamada, MD, MBA (@OmarHamada) January 23, 2019
Sarah Cleveland, an ultrasound tech for more than 15 years, explained on Facebook:
“If there is a true emergency (high blood pressure due to pregnancy, for example) doctors will in fact end the pregnancy to save the mother. It is called an emergency C-section. The baby is out—maybe very early, but the baby is out—and cared for. The pregnancy has ended and Mom can be cared for.”
Late term abortions take a few days to complete and are outpatient procedures, she says, concluding that there’s no such thing as an emergency abortion.
A few other physicians have responded to Dr. Hamada’s tweet, arguing that there are cases in which offering an abortion might be more humane than forcing a delivery or Cesarean – though only one extremely rare condition is given as example. Even then, Dr. Hamada’s point remains true: The emergency Cesarean will end the pregnancy with no more risk to the mother’s life – and perhaps less – than the late term abortion. If the child dies, the child dies – but it won’t be because Dr. Hamada chose to kill it. These claims, therefore, don’t refute his point that there is no medical necessity for a late term abortion. The argument over whether killing the baby can be a humane option in some cases merely illustrates the ideological differences between doctors.
Dead, or Merely Dormant?
As previously mentioned, this bill hasn’t been killed so much as it has been set aside for the moment. But even if HB2491 never sees the light of day, what’s to stop Virginia from passing an identical measure in the near future? Republicans only outnumber Democrats 51-48 in the House of Delegates and 21-19 in the Senate. The governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, supported this bill. Just a few seats flipped in the next election – or a few Republicans either falling for the “to save the mother” excuse or considering themselves “pro-choice” – and this bill becomes law.