Divisive Days for Virginia
During my 17 years as a metro columnist I wrote approximately 2,448 columns. I opined, it seems, about almost everything from politics to pop culture and pit bulls. But I rarely wrote about abortion.
The way I saw it - the way I still see it - abortion is an emotionally charged issue and nothing a columnist has ever written or ever will write can change a single mind about it.
So I usually sidestepped the topic.
The uproar this week over a proposed bill in the General Assembly that would loosen regulations on late-term, third-trimester abortions in Virginia cries out for comment.
It’s an appalling mess of a bill. So bad that one of its sponsors, Del. Dawn Adams of Richmond, announced yesterday that she hadn’t read it carefully and was pulling her support.
This measure is one that most Virginians - pro-life, pro-choice - ought to agree goes too far. A viral six-minute video of House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert questioning the bill’s patron, Del. Kathy Tran, shocked the nation when she admitted the measure would essentially allow a woman to abort her baby even after that mother was in labor. Next, Gov. Ralph Northam threw gasoline on the abortion debate during a radio interview with WTOP on Wednesday when he coolly described a situation in which a deformed baby is born and a decision can be made about whether to resuscitate the infant or let the baby die.
Gallup polled Americans last May about abortion and found a 48-48 split between folks who described themselves as pro-life or pro-choice. But only 29 percent of respondents believed abortion should be available without restriction. And just 18 percent believed abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
Clearly, we’re divided on this issue.
But when it comes to third trimester abortions, we seem to be in agreement. Gallup reports that just 13 percent of Americans believe late-term abortions should be legal while 81 percent believe they should be illegal.
Polls aren’t always accurate. Yet these numbers have been fairly consistent across more than 20 years of Gallup polling on abortion.
Many of us watched with a touch of revulsion last week when a packed audience of Albany abortion enthusiasts cheered as New York Assembly passed legislation that allows women to abort babies up until the 40th week of pregnancy.
Wasn't it Hillary Clinton who famously said that abortions should be safe, legal and rare? How did we go from that to applauding grotesque medical procedures?
Look, good people can hold different opinions on abortion. But simple humanity demands that we draw a line somewhere.
The third trimester seems like that place.