To the Editor:
This Friday, members of the Constitutional Law Subcommittee of the Courts of Justice in the House of Delegates will vote on HB2321 — a dangerous and unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban. My legislator, Del. Dave Albo (R-42), is the chair of this subcommittee, and his leadership and opposition to this legislation is crucial to the sanctity of a woman’s deeply personal healthcare decisions.
Although nearly 99 percent of abortions in the United States occur before the 21st week of pregnancy, the 1 percent of abortions occurring later in pregnancy involve tragic, unforeseeable medical circumstances (such as rare, severe fetal anomalies or serious risks to a woman’s health). Thus, this legislation proposes to thwart the judgment of doctors in exigent cases where sound, professional judgment is absolutely critical. Medical associations including the American Congress of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists (citing the Journal of the American Medical Association) oppose these laws, because they are dangerous to the health of women. Yet medically unqualified politicians in the House of Delegates insist that they know better. In Nebraska, Danielle Deaver's water broke at 22 weeks. Her doctor
advised her that (with most of the amniotic fluid drained) the fetus could not develop or survive and that the risk of prosecution made abortion impossible. What kind of politics forces a patient to carry a fetus that is certain to be stillborn?
Similar measures in Wisconsin, Alabama, and Texas have been or soon will be defeated on constitutional grounds. Virginia's version (introduced by some of the more extreme members of the legislature) reflects the same fundamental lack of understanding of both the law and the medical circumstances in which Virginia patients find themselves. Qualified physicians must be free to review each patient's context, make the medically correct diagnosis, and administer the appropriate treatment (expeditiously in emergencies). Instead, we've reached an alarming time when politicians have proposed to criminalize medically necessary decisions (such as the one presented in Ms. Deaver's case) with a Class 6 Felony.
The House of Delegates is not the body from which a woman seeks medical counsel or permission to act in the manner that is critical to her health. It is her doctor (sworn to protect her health, as well as extensively educated and sedulously trained to do so) who she rightfully trusts with these decisions. No woman addresses a legislative committee for personal medical decisions.
Recognizing this basic understanding of roles, Delegate Albo must uphold this truth and vote no on HB2321.