The same Democratic governor who in January defended infanticide in the cases where a baby survived a botched abortion, signed a bill into law Tuesday that will make animal cruelty a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Before Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed “Tommy’s Law,” abusers could only be charged with a misdemeanor unless the animal died.
While Tommy’s Law is to be applauded, it is also a stark reminder that the good governor had a less humane stance on newborn infants just a couple of months ago.
During a now infamous radio interview in January, he defended a radical pro-abortion bill that would have repealed restrictions on abortion, allowing unborn babies to be aborted up until the moment of birth. During the discussion, he even appeared to endorse legalizing infanticide in cases of failed abortions.
“When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of—obviously—the mother, with the consent of the physicians—more than one physician, by the way. And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable,” Northam told the WTOP Radio hosts in Washington, D.C. on January 30.
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered,” the governor added. “The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians & mother.”
Ofirah Yheskel, a Northam spokesman, insisted in a statement that “no woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor.”
He added: “Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal medical decisions. Virginia law currently prohibits third-trimester abortions, except in the extreme circumstances in which a woman’s life or health is at risk and that risk is certified by three physicians.”
The REPEAL Act (H.B. 2491), the legislation supported by Northam, however, would have changed Virginia law so that only one doctor could decide if an abortion was justified—not three. Also, Del. Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) admitted that the proposed legislation would have allowed a woman’s mental health an acceptable deciding factor for a third-trimester abortion–even after she has gone into labor. Virginia Republicans killed the legislation in a House committee vote on January 31.
After coming under withering criticism for endorsing infanticide, Northam refused to disavow his comments, saying: “I don’t have any regrets.”
Tommy’s Law, unfortunately, only applies to dogs and cats.
Humane Dominion, which calls itself “Virginia’s only political action committee (PAC) dedicated to making the Commonwealth a safer, more humane place for animals,” endorsed Ralph Northam for governor, saying in October of 2017, “it is essential to have strong leadership for animals at all levels of government and we feel confident that Ralph is the humane leader Virginia’s animals need.”
Photo credit: Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images