RINOs undercut abortion safety legislation


Some people object to applying the label "pro-abortion" to anyone. "Pro-choice" is preferred, "pro-abortion-rights" is acceptable, but even the head of the local Planned Parenthood chapter back in Tulsa told me with a straight face that she considers herself "pro-life." All she and her allies want is to ensure that abortion is, in the words of Slick Willie, "safe, legal, and rare."

If no one is really pro-abortion, then why do abortion clinics get a special exemption from rules that apply in every other surgical environment? Dawn Eden calls attention to a letter from Virginia State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (a Republican) about the failure of his abortion safety bill, which was "passed by indefinitely" in the Senate Health and Education Committee by a 9-6 vote. Cuccinelli begins his letter with the story that moved him to propose the bill:

Please imagine a young woman who goes into a surgeon's office to have a simple procedure performed. The surgeon performs the procedure, but punctures a large blood vessel during the surgery, causing the young woman to lose a significant amount of blood. Perhaps the surgeon is not aware of the bleeding or does not make an attempt to mend the blood vessel, nor does he call 911 for emergency help. He leaves her in the chair, tells a nurse to look after her, leaves the office and goes home for the afternoon. A while later, when the nurse on duty cannot revive the young woman, she calls 911. When the paramedics arrive, they cannot get a gurney to her because the halls and doors are too narrow. When they finally reach her, it is too late to save her. The final indignity occurs when they have to literally fold her body around corners and doorways to get her out of the building.

I am sure you are thinking that the scenario I describe simply does not happen in our world of modern medicine. And you would be right about nearly any medical facility licensed to do business in the Commonwealth. I say "nearly any" because the unfortunate truth is that something like this occurred two years ago in a Northern Virginia abortion clinic that resulted in the death of a young woman. While the details are still unknown, when I heard about this tragedy I was moved to do something to ensure that it would not happen again.

In following up on this tragedy, I learned some startling facts. I did not know that abortion clinics are not regulated, nor are they required to be inspected by the Virginia Department of Health. If there is a problem at an abortion clinic, it is only uncovered if someone lodges a complaint. I also learned that the same abortion clinic mentioned earlier had three other emergency ambulance visits in the six months prior to the death of one of their patients. It turns out that just about all of the Northern Virginia abortion clinics were making similar 911 calls to save their own patients.

Be sure to read the whole letter.

You'll notice the pattern: Destroying innocent life takes precedence over medical safety, letting a patient make an informed choice about surgery, and letting parents to know about and consent to surgery on their children. Our nation's leaders have also given abortion a special exemption when it comes to the right to assemble peacably and protest, and I don't know any political movement other than the pro-life movement that has been targeted for harassment using the RICO statutes. Under Cuccinelli's bill, abortion clinics would have been subject to about 40 regulations -- the same sort of regulations that outpatient surgery clinics must comply with. Who could believe it's really too burdensome to prohibit dermatologists from performing abortions?

As I read of the bill's death by committee, my first thought was that surely the Democrats are still in charge of the Virginia Legislature, and that's why such reasonable legislation can't make it out of committee. This sort of result is a regular event in the Oklahoma Senate, where Democrat Senate Health Committee chairman Bernest Cain blocks pro-life legislation, despite the strong pro-life convictions even among members of his own party. (Sen. Cain, you'll recall, is an embittered ex-Christian who compared Christians to Nazis and the Taliban a couple of years ago. That his Democratic colleagues allow him to retain his responsible position puts the lie to their claim that at the state level at least, Democrats are still in step with Oklahoma values.)

But Virginia's problem seems to be an infestation of RINOs. Republicans have a majority in the Virginia Senate, and of the nine votes to kill the bill, two Republicans, Committee Chairman H. Russell Potts and Frederick M. Quayle voted along with all seven Democrats. Potts is talking of leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent for Governor, and he broke with his Republican colleagues to support a record $1.5 billion tax increase. (Interesting how self-professed social-liberal-but-fiscal-conservatives usually turn out to be fiscal liberals.) Quayle made the news last March when he proposed an amendment to a bill banning nudist camps for teens; Quayle's unsuccessful amendment would have allowed camp owners to be designated in loco parentis, so that teens would be able to attend nudist camps without their parents or guardians present.

This underscores the importance of Republican party primaries. It isn't good enough to hold a majority if key members of your caucus are philosophically out of step with the party's central values and work to undermine good legislation. Conservative activists need to identify good Republican primary challengers to these RINOs and help them get an early and strong start.

It's often argued that we must tolerate RINOs because there are seats too liberal for real conservative Republicans to win. Sen. Cuccinelli is an example of how wrong that thinking is -- a pro-life stalwart and a key advocate of TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) legislation, he won in Fairfax County, a liberal, affluent area in the suburbs of DC.

There ought to be consequences for these two Republican state senators who stood in the way of a floor debate and vote on such reasonable legislation. A failure to act will undermine the confidence of grass-roots conservatives in the party and will come back to bite the GOP as candidates seek volunteers and contributors among conservative activists.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 11, 2005 10:03 PM.

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