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Setting the Record Straight: Abortion

Updated: 6 days ago

Honest, meaningful conversations start with the truth. Here are some facts with references so you can verify for yourself.

Virginia law allows abortion until the moment of birth.

As you can see on that link, in Virginia, abortion is unlimited until the last three months of pregnancy, but with documentation, an abortion can be performed until the moment of birth.

This wasn't enough for Virginia Democrats. They made the radical decision to push legislation to make it easier to have an abortion up to the moment of birth.

In contrast, here is my position, followed by more detail on each statement.

As an OB/GYN, I’ve cared for mothers and babies and shared moments of joy and heartache.

For almost 30 years, I have cared for women, unconditionally. I have protected and supported both moms and babies. Women's health care is about being there through good and bad as a trusted supporter, a reliable source of evidence, a listener, and a problem solver. That means being there for pregnancies and paps, healthy years and bad diagnoses, divorces and heartbreak, stress, sadness, surgery, all of it. It's a relationship. That's what I do.

My experience as a mother has informed my care, and my patients’ experiences have shaped me. This is the perspective I bring to the conversation about abortion.

As a physician, I firmly believe my job is to educate, support, and empower. My patients' beliefs and the best available medical evidence are the essential components of their care. It's not about me. I don't interject my opinion, I help them find theirs.

As a woman and a mother, it is not possible to create such a firewall for my emotions. I share my patients' heartbreak when they have a crisis, and I don't hesitate to feel their pain because that connection is another way I can help them heal. It's an authentic part of the relationship, and it has shaped me.

I am humbled by their suffering and inspired by their resiliency. I carry those experiences with me as I serve in the Senate. My legislation, my positions, and my votes are informed by their stories.

My legislative position is:

Abortion should remain legal for up to 15 weeks. After 15 weeks, there should be reasonable exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother, and in cases of severe fetal anomalies.

Not a ban, but legislation that reflects compassionate common sense.

Why is this reasonable?

My position is founded on medical testing which is always improving. Let me get technical here.

Today, over the counter tests can confirm pregnancy even before a missed period which is less than two weeks after conception. By 10 weeks, maternal blood tests can accurately identify chromosomal anomalies and even the sex of the baby. Medical science has come a long way in a short time.

Access to abortion up to 15 weeks, or almost four months, gives ample time to be aware of a pregnancy.

What about anomalies?

In addition to early chromosomal testing, ultrasounds that diagnose structural abnormalities of the baby are now routinely done early in the pregnancy and are diagnostic by four to five months.

Medical advances for preterm babies have also advanced at an amazing pace, and now babies born after five and a half to six months of pregnancy not only live, but thrive.

Two years ago, I delivered a baby at just 23 weeks, not even six months of pregnancy. He went home from the NICU twelve weeks later, and is perfectly healthy.

An exception up to six months, or viability, for the rare, devastating circumstances of severe fetal anomalies, is ample time to find a problem.

It is also important to talk about nonviable pregnancies. Those are pregnancies that can never result in a live birth like ectopics and miscarriages. Treatment to end a nonviable pregnancy should never be delayed. The life, health and future fertility of that woman hangs in the balance and once diagnosed it should be treated as soon as possible. In light of recent alarming national stories, this too should be included in law.

The democrats killed the bill I proposed last year that included these protections.

What I cannot accept is the current Virginia law which allows for abortion up to the MOMENT OF BIRTH.

It is staggering to me that Virginia allows abortion up to the moment of birth. It is common sense that this is wrong, and we can agree it needs to be fixed.

In Virginia, a woman can have an abortion between six months and nine months if three doctors agree that being pregnant is bad for her mental or physical health. To be clear, this is not about the life of the mother, but some nonspecific mental or physical state. It could literally be anything, and this language is inconsistent with medical care. Delivery is the appropriate intervention for maternal illness in the third trimester.

The standard of care in medicine ALWAYS protects the mother, all 40 weeks, even if there is jeopardy or risk of death for the baby.

But intentional abortion for a non-life threatening medical issue is not needed or reasonable. The mother can be protected by delivering the baby, and the baby can go to the neonatal intensive care unit. Our laws should reflect this common sense approach.

Virginia democrats are so extreme, instead of working for common sense consensus, they actually tried to make it easier to abort up to 40 weeks.

Here is the bill and the patrons or supporters, including my opponent.

They can’t defend their position by citing other countries that have similar laws. Look at the law all over Europe.

As a doctor, I know this practice is not reasonable. It is extreme, unnecessary, and heartbreaking.

This extreme position rejects common sense and the advances of modern medicine.

I think of the preterm babies I have delivered who have thrived with the support of modern neonatal medicine, and how they are just like a baby who could, in Virginia, be aborted.

Virginia law, written over 50 years ago, should be updated to align with the advancements in medical science. It's just common sense.

Listen carefully during this election. You will hear the democrats talk about “current law” but they won't define it because they know Virginians are horrified when they discover the current law means up to the moment of birth.

They will say Virginia only has abortion up to the last three months, intentionally omitting the permissions up to 40 weeks because they know the majority of Virginians don't agree with abortion in the last three months.

They inaccurately call access with reasonable limits and protections for almost term babies a “ban” to avoid admitting their extreme position.

As a mother, I believe we must support women who choose to have their babies. I will fight for more wrap-around services to support moms.

Working together to help women is something we can all agree on and a much more constructive approach to legislation.

We must do a better job of supporting women because we can solve some of the problems that contribute to the choice of abortion.

Choosing to have a baby should not mean you are hopelessly alone and surrendering your opportunities, dreams or prosperity.

I wish we could advance medicine and build a society where no woman ever felt she needed an abortion and every baby could be well and thrive.

Since the 1980s the abortion rate has decreased by 50%, not due to changes in the law (Roe v. Wade was still in place), but because women have had better resources and opportunities. Let's build on that success and pass laws that further increase their resources and opportunities.

Remember rare?

Safe, legal and RARE?

In medicine we treat problems by finding the root cause. Economics and lack of resources are two of the root causes that contribute to a woman feeling she has no better choice than abortion. There are so many things we can do to ensure women have better choices by increasing opportunities and resources.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Long acting reversible contraception funding

  • Case management to improve chronic disease and the deadly effects it can have with pregnancy

  • Case management to connect women to housing, child care, education and any support they need, and funding new resources.

  • Child support in pregnancy

  • Virginia Perinatal Neonatal Collaborative to improve outcomes in every Virginia hospital and community

  • 12 weeks of income protection for maternity disability coverage

  • Redesigning and funding foster care and kinship care

  • Perinatal hospice support for babies who are born despite catastrophic diagnoses

  • Education grants and funding so moms can earn sought after credentials and a rewarding career with benefits

  • Supportive housing and pathways to home ownership

As your senator, I listen, and what I hear is hope for compassion and a way forward

Again and again, I hear from my constituents that they want the anxiety and debate on abortion to end. They want the leaders of both parties to do better and find consensus.

As your senator, this is how I have voted and will continue to vote. My vote already matters a great deal in a divided senate, and my voice as the only doctor in the senate is taken seriously. If re-elected, both my vote and my voice will matter even more.

My experience gives me unique credibility to speak up on this issue, and that is why I am taking the lead with a plan that is common sense, compassionate and proposes ways we can come together, and work together, to make things better. With that, we can build consensus.

Political activists will continue to create anxiety, mislead, and avoid authentic conversation because they want to trigger fear instead of building consensus.

As a doctor, I treat anxiety and de-escalate tension with accurate information and perspective on difficult issues. As a senator, I do the same thing with civil, common sense, evidence-based conversations.

Thank you for listening, I would appreciate your vote so I continue to be a voice of reason in Virginia.

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