Right Opinion

New York and Virginia Extremes

Bill Wagner · Feb. 4, 2019

Virginia borrowed a page from New York and proposed legislation that would remove certain restrictions on third-trimester abortions. The opinion of only one, not three, doctors would be needed to authorize women to decide to have a third-trimester abortion.

You can almost understand why in New York. It has become so blue that radical leftist proposals are considered the norm. But Virginia? The legislation was not approved, but why would lawmakers there even propose it?

In testimony on the bill, one of the sponsors was asked if it would permit a woman in labor with a viable baby to have an abortion if a doctor declared that going through with the birth would impair the woman’s mental health. At first, the response was that the decision would be made between the woman and the doctor, but when pushed it was admitted that the bill would permit an abortion during labor.

When people ask me if I am pro-life or pro-choice, my answer is: Yes. I hate labels on such a difficult and sensitive issue, and I am not a purist. I’m even ambivalent on Roe v. Wade. I think Roe et al. got it just about right on the merits. No restrictions in the first trimester, a mother’s health exception until the time when the baby is viable, and the protection of the baby after. In the extremely rare and tragic circumstance in which continuing a late-term pregnancy would cause a mother’s death, the choice of what to do should rest with the mother.

But Roe was flat-out wrong on the law. There is no “privacy” right in the Constitution, and decisions on how to legislate the issue should have been left to the states. At a minimum, that would have put the decision in the hands of the people, not nine judges. I think most states would have adopted the key elements of Roe and saved the country from decades of acrimony.

But back to Virginia. Why would it propose this? Is there such a need to appeal to the abortion-on-demand crowd that literally anything goes? The Left sent out its proponents to the talk shows to make their case, and the first line of attack was to claim that old white men were trying to control women’s bodies, and they completely ignored the rights of the viable, about-to-be-born baby.

There was even some interpretation of the bill that it would permit the killing of a baby after he or she was born, so the argument about controlling women’s bodies didn’t add up, since the baby was no longer part of his or her mother’s body. Some proponents of the bill then claimed that they hadn’t really read it.

But after that logic fell apart, and the debate returned to the consideration of the rights of the baby, the rationale changed yet again. We were then told that while the new law would indeed permit all those extreme actions, in practice no one would actually do it. No doctor would ever approve anything that late (or after birth), regardless of the woman’s health concerns. So let’s just move on.

Well, if that’s the case, then why draft a law that allows it in the first place? It reminds me of the debate on torture from a few years back. According to the holier-than-thou pols like John McCain, torture is not “who we are” and should be utterly banned under penalty of law. There were some people who wanted a “ticking time bomb” exception. But the rationale used to reject it said that if there were a nuclear weapon about to go off in DC and we had someone in custody who knew where it was, we would expect the military or CIA to use whatever torture methods at their disposal to find it. And to the personnel doing the deed, don’t worry. We would never actually prosecute them.

As a country, I don’t believe we are anywhere close to thinking that the New York and Virginia laws are anything but radical extremes, but the way the media reported it shows that the battle is far from decided. The outcry from commonsense people against the bills was described by the media as an “attack by the right trying to paint all Democrats as part of the liberal extremes,” as if the issue was all about politics.

But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when we have Democrats who are adamantly opposed to building more border “walls” saying nothing about existing walls and who seem perfectly fine with building “Normandy barriers” because they are “movable.” Or Democrats declaring that health care is a “right.” Or Democrats planning to eliminate fossil fuels in 12 years to save the planet from certain environmental destruction with zero scientific basis. Or Democrats wanting to raise the top tax rate to 90%, or take chunks of wealth above certain levels, or raise the death tax, all to fund guaranteed free college, pre-school, housing, and minimum income, regardless of the math being off by several trillion dollars. But no problem, we are told: Facts don’t matter. Only the morality of your position does.

The good news is that we are getting such radical proposals from the Left (with more to come once the 2020 campaign gets into high gear) that it might actually jump-start the GOP into responding with an unapologetic celebration of conservative principles. Use the Left’s proposals as a basis for debating the role of government and the kind of country we want to be.

I remain convinced that in spite of the actions of the Left and the media spin, the country has not ventured so far down the liberal road that conservative approaches can’t win the day if presented logically and with conviction. We simply need to avoid being cowed and just try.

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