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MUSINGS about PERSONHOOD and ULTRASOUND bills – let’s not GIVE UP on Governor McDONNELL yet!

I could have written about the latest climate change scandal (looks like bad behavior by climate change supporters but the jury is still out), or a defense of affirmative action in college admissions (while I believe in aggressive RECRUITMENT of minorities I do not favor race in college admissions or anywhere else absent exigent circumstances), or even an alleged alliance between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul (I believe Romney has figured out he needs the Paul supporters to win the general election and Romney and Paul are civil to one another.  Paul has no deal.  But I will say that Sen. Rand Paul has an excellent chance of being Romney’s running mate) that assumes Paul is an ordinary politician!

But I write about the personhood bill and the ultrasound bill instead.

The personhood bill is certainly based on sound science.  When that egg and sperm meet – you have a human life.  No question.  However, I am not prepared at this technological point to giving embryos rights as humans.  The right here is one to treat an unborn embryo as a person for a limited civil law purpose.  I agree!  But, it could theoretically ban the IUD or the morning-after pill.  (I do not see sufficient protection for birth control in Section D.)  Here is the pertinent part of the bill:

D. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for directly or indirectly harming her unborn child.

I understand the theory behind it.  Birth control is an “indirect” harm to a unborn child; abortion is a “direct” harm.  Hence, neither are covered by this bill.  But I am not entirely convinced as to this point.  I would like language specifically exempting birth control and abortion.  Not because I am a friend of abortion.  However, I do feel that there are considerations involved in banning abortion that I am reluctant to pursue as a libertarian.  The ban on abortion would have to be enforced by in effect making pregnant women wards of the state.  In Ceausescu’s Romania, the regime did exactly that:

All women were forced to go for a gynaecological control every month, this monthly health control representing the requirement for receiving medical care8. The pregnancies detected were monitored until term. In this way, the possibilities to provoke an empirical abortion were almost totally annihilated. The law was extremely severe, numerous gynaecologists as well as women who resorted to this method paying with years of prison their trial to avoid it.

I am hardly pro-choice.  I believe that abortion should only be legal in rare circumstances:  life of mother, rape or incest or serious deformity.  I do not think all those choices are moral – several of those choices are immoral.  But until technology comes to the point (if it can) that a woman with an unwanted embryo could transfer him or her to a willing woman who has been approved similar to the adoption procedure it will be problematic to ban abortion.

I submit birth control (other than abortion) is none of the government’s business.  It is a private matter between a couple and his/her doctor and clergyman.  Between parents and minor children.  We ought to be very careful as conservatives in proposing legislation to ensure the law does no harm.  I am not sure the personhood bill does that.

Let’s now turn to the ultrasound bill.  I agree the bill does not mandate any sort of invasive procedure.  But the original bill did not exclude it either.  I would not support such a procedure and I think Governor McDonnell was right to exclude it when the issue came up.

I do think Governor McDonnell is a solid conservative.  He would make a great VP choice.  Let’s help him as best we can by playing social issues as smartly and strategically as we can.  There are better ways to advance a social cause.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

One Response to “MUSINGS about PERSONHOOD and ULTRASOUND bills – let’s not GIVE UP on Governor McDONNELL yet!”

  1. Clay says:

    Yours is a well-considered and reasonable position. However, with all the financial issues facing America, particularly at the national level, Republicans can ill-afford to spend time on these kinds of things, They will alienate far more people than they attract, and if we do not rid the country of Obama in November none of it may matter .


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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