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Personhood Bill May Set the Tone for 2012 General Assembly

"When does life begin?" will be a question for debate this session.


The very first bill introduced for the 2012 session of the General Assembly may in
part set the agenda for the session. 

House Bill 1, introduced by Del. Bob Marshall of Prince William County, would write into Virginia law that “the life of each human being begins at conception.”  The bill goes on to state that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being…The laws of this Commonwealth shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this Commonwealth...”  A similar measure was defeated by Mississippi voters in a referendum earlier this month.

The ramifications of defining a fetus as a person with full rights of citizenship are unclear.  Would all forms of abortion be murder?  Would the doctor performing
such procedures on a woman who had been raped be guilty of murder?  Would taking a morning after contraceptive pill become illegal?  Would a legal guardian be appointed to protect the interests of the fetus now described as an unborn child?  Could a miscarriage be considered involuntary manslaughter?  No one knows the answers to these questions.  Such issues arise when legislative bodies attempt to take on subjects about which theologians, moralists, and medical scientists have not been able to reach agreement.

You can be sure that Del. Marshall is sincere in introducing the bill.  He is quite savvy in the legislative process and persistent in his pro-life goals. Over his 20 years in the House of Delegates, he has introduced dozens of bills and floor amendments to limit a woman’s right to make reproductive choices and to end stem cell research.

 If the committee that receives his bill does not act on it favorably, he will introduce it as an amendment to other bills on the floor.  Given the composition of the membership of the House of Delegates after the November election, he may well get the bill passed in the House.  With the House Republican Party’s binding caucus rules, moderate Republicans may find themselves having to vote for the bill or face a primary challenge in the next election or the loss of important committee assignments.  Votes on the bill will not be along straight
partisan lines, as some downstate Democrats may vote with the Republican caucus
position.

The outcome in the Senate is even less certain.  Should there be a tie vote, the Lieutenant Governor would have to cast his vote with the Attorney General peering over his shoulder and the next governorship nomination hanging in the balance. 
The bill sent to the Governor would have him weighing it with his vice presidential aspirations.  Maybe House Bill 1 does not simply set the agenda for the legislative session; it may influence political direction for the year!

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The Convict December 01, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Would sex-while-pregnant be considered child sexual abuse? Would an IUD be considered a murder weapon? And just how far down the reproductive timeline can this go? Why stop at conception? A fertilized egg is no more viable than the unfertilized egg and the sperm? Why not consider these as "human life" as well? Then not only would you have to worry about going blind or growing hair on the palms of your hands, but you would also have to worry about getting arrested for masturbation. At a time when the common wisdom is that the world is over-populated, the folks down south come up with legislation designed to put further pressure on our limited natural resources.
Ellen December 05, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Convict, why not identify yourself. This comment is so outrageous.
The Convict December 06, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Because I don't believe in making myself a potential victim of identity theft from internet screen scrapers. Besides, what does my non-internet name matter? There's only one Convict working the Reston websites. BTW, one person's outrageous is another person's thoughtful examination of the possible implications. So you call it outrageous. What do you find so outrageous? That my opinion disagrees with -- nay, shows the utterly ridiculousness of -- your pro-life stance?

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