Virginia Governor Ralph Northam inserted himself into the news cycle earlier this week when discussing a Democratic lawmaker’s call to change the range of the state’s abortion laws. Since then Northam has done more to bring calls for his resignation, and in the process opened up blind spots to how sin affects us.
Delegate Kathy Tran’s comments during a subcommittee hearing called for abortion to be available virtually up until moments before a child is born. Furthermore, there should only be one required medical professional present instead of three and while endangerment to the mother’s life has been the reason placed for an abortion, Tran advocated for endangerment to the mother’s health. That could be mental and emotional health as well as physical.
New York State passed a similar law days earlier to a rousing ovation from backers. They felt it was applause for choice. It was an applause for state-sanctioned murder of the most innocent among us.
People who disagree with me on abortion get upset when I put it that bluntly. But often, the most egregious sins stare us in the face and we’re just not willing to admit it.
Attempting to clarify Tran’s statements, Northam made it worse, saying that a baby born successfully can “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 and mother.”
This. This is how it would be determined if a life is worth keeping.
Northam has tried to walk that back, saying he was referring to further medical care. But Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) spelled out what I think we all know:
“We’re talking about infanticide … Everyone in the Senate ought to be able to say unequivocally that killing that little baby is wrong. And if you can’t say that, you shouldn’t be here. You should get the heck out of any calling in public life.”
Then the other shoe dropped. Northam is also a pediatric neurosurgeon (No, I’m not making that up.) who studied at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He has spent the weekend deflecting calls for his resignation – from all sides – over a picture on his yearbook page showing two individuals, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
An hour-long news conference Northam called to explain didn’t help. No, it didn’t help at all. Including the expected denials that he was one of the two pictured, Northam admitted that he did once dress in blackface as Michael Jackson during a dance contest. When a reporter asked if he could still moonwalk, Northam seemed to look for space to demonstrate before his wife interjected with “inappropriate circumstances.” I’m not making that up, either.
This discussion can cover several areas, including God’s grace available for those who have had an abortion as well as people like Ralph Northam with mistakes in their past. What I keep coming back to, though, is that Northam should have resigned over his initial comments on a baby being kept comfortable and resuscitated before the physicians and mother have a “discussion.”
When we coast by that comment but land hard on that picture, we ought to be troubled. We should take stock in how we view right and wrong. Both cases lower human dignity and see another life as less valuable than others. Both run counter to what Psalm 139:14 says in that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
New York and Virginia aren’t actually doing something not already in federal law. On the same day in 1973 Roe v. Wade passed, the Supreme Court also ruled on Doe v. Bolton, which directly attacked Georgia’s abortion laws and ultimately said one could take place at any point during the pregnancy due to the mother’s health. Lawmakers in New York and Virginia are working to establish the same standard out of fear that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. For more questions I recommend this explainer put out by the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Abortion has been the most divisive issue of America’s culture war since its legalization. Many have come around to seeing it for what it is. Now, 3D and 4D ultrasound technology allow us to see the baby moving as early as 18 weeks (You can’t ignore this and still claim to love science, by the way.). This may explain why Millennials were among the loudest critical voices when a proposed federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks was blocked by the Senate last year. Not surprisingly, that group’s opposition to abortion runs with their religious background.
We have a way of ignoring our most blatant sin, whether that’s pride, greed … or condoning murder. I’ve heard the arguments for abortion, the situations where it’s said it would be better for a child to die due to quality of life. That’s a very dangerous road to go down.
Let’s be honest: that’s the defense, but it’s not the reason. Our outrage identifies our blind spots and points to our need for a Savior without prejudice, and who speaks often about justice and dignity for all.