OPINION: “That is not infanticide. I know. I went through it.”

This week, before the racist images on his yearbook page came out, Virginia’s Governor Northam’s comments about a proposed late-term abortion bill caused a stir. 

Under current Virginia law, abortions during the third trimester require a determination by a doctor and 2 consulting physicians that continuing the pregnancy would likely result in the woman’s death or “substantially and irremediably” impair her mental or physical health. The bill, proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates by Democrat Kathy Tran, would require only 1 doctor to make the determination, and would eliminate the requirement that abortions during the 2nd trimester be performed in a state-licensed hospital. 

Proponents of the Virginia legislation argue the bill is needed to protect women’s health. Opponents argue late-term abortions are rarely medically necessary. The bill has provoked a swift backlash from conservatives all across the country, including here in Tennessee. 

Jessica Yokley, who recently ran for State House in District 70, has some personal experience with this matter. Her comments are below:

Let’s discuss this quote by Governor Northam, while explaining the HB 2491 measure:

“The infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and family desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Folks, this is not infanticide. This is the reality of delivery of a non-viable baby (meaning “unable to survive outside the womb”).

I know. I went through it.

Cora was non-viable. She was resuscitated. She was placed on life support. Tests were run. Discussions were had between her doctor and us.

The decision was made to unplug the life support.

The alternative was a long and painful death.

Those who know me have probably not heard me tell the story that way because it sounds so cold and scientific. I hate using those words. But, those are medical terms, and that is the scientific way to tell Cora’s story.

These decisions are the most terrible thing in the world. Until you are there, you cannot possibly understand. Everyone needs to stop and truly research these new laws.

Stop listening to the biased media.

No one is ripping full term babies from the womb.

No one is delivering babies and then killing them.

More importantly, you are not solving a damn thing by creating Facebook posts with false and misleading information. What you’re doing is calling people like me murderers because of your ignorance of individual situations.

Every medical situation is different, and that is why decisions must be made by the doctor and family.

None of us knows every situation, or the correct meanings for every medical term. Stop judging what you don’t know. Instead, reach out to women who are scared and need a support system to choose life. You want to stop abortion? That’s how you stop it.

(Side note: Northam does need to learn better communications skills)

How about we cut the partisan crap… if we want to be pro-life then we have to make sure we are giving respect and dignity to all lives.

Democrats, we cannot let our retort be “her body, her choice”. We must explain that “pro-choice” does NOT mean “pro-abortion”. We must show the evidence of what actually does reduce abortion rates, and fight like hell to get those programs in place.

Republicans, you don’t get to claim “pro-life” and moral superiority while excusing the fact that Trump can’t reunite the children he separated from their families. You don’t get to claim “pro-life” while pushing for the very things that decrease abortion and neglect of children to be taken away or made harder to get – like health insurance (yes, Medicaid expansion), access to birth control, and social programs that provide necessities to children.

We have to decide – do we want to reduce abortions and create a better life for every child that we can? Or do we want to have a bunch of partisan fights about who’s evil and who’s not?

In my opinion, the biggest evil is refusing to enact and create programs and assistance that help protect children. We are either pro-life or pro-political agenda.

It’s time we unite and control the politicians, instead of letting them divide and control us with rhetoric.

Jessica Yokley lives in Lawrenceburg with her husband Kevin and sons Preston and Gavin. She recently ran for TN State House District 70, and is the chair of the Lawrence County Democratic Party.

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