Monday, February 20, 2012

Virginia State Lawmakers Cross the Line

The line is a line of protestors, mostly women, who strongly object to legislation that would "define embryos as humans and criminalize their destruction, require "transvaginal" ultrasounds of women seeking abortions and cutting state aid to poor women seeking abortions" (Bob Lewis, PilotOnline). Police estimated the crowd at about 1,000.

HB1, the legislation presented by state lawmakers Robert G Marshall (R-13) and Ben L Cline (R-24), would give "unborn children at every stage of development" the same rights and privileges as "other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth" (VLIF). The legislation defines life as beginning at conception, which is problematic since conception cannot be measured. According to Medline, the medical dictionary used by the National Institutes of Health, conception is "the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both" (Medline).

Most women do not know when an egg has been fertilized. It floats around in the fallopian tubes and eventually makes its way to the uterus. If the uterus is prepared, the fertilized egg may attach to the wall of the uterus, then it becomes an embryo. For various reasons, including infections, the uterus may not be prepared and the fertilized egg passes on, eventually leaving the body during the woman's regular menstrual cycle.

Was that fertilized egg a person with all the rights of a citizen? How can anyone possibly enforce such an idea?

This legislation is obviously meant to criminalize abortion. What they fail to take into consideration are religions that believe abortion is morally acceptable. A colleague from Israel informed me that Judaism teaches that life begins with the first breath -- at birth. While individuals in every religion may believe differently (for example, Catholics differ on contraceptives), Jewish law requires an abortion when the mother's life is threatened. In all other cases, abortion is considered a personal choice.

How will the Virginia legislation conflict with the religious beliefs of the state's Jewish population? What happened to the freedom to practice religion that was so important when Catholics protested Obama's health insurance program that required coverage of contraceptives? Shouldn't this also apply to Virginia state law?

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