by Kellen Squire
Late last week, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-Sweatervest), knowing he has to poll above 0% in a Republican primary to even be considered for a Vice Presidential role on a 2024 ticket (much less run for President), declared his intention to seek a 15-week abortion ban in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Getting that through the legislature, he seems to think, will finally make him relevant to someone, somewhere, somehow. So he’s prepared to criminalize Virginia’s women and healthcare providers, in the pursuit of a goal he will never – never – achieve.
Pursuant to Virginia’s “Woodrum Amendment”, a budgetary quirk whereby you have to set aside money for the presumed incarceration cost of new criminal laws, Governor Youngkin allocated $50,000 in his budget proposal to prosecute and jail women who violate that law. Horrifyingly, the Governor “found” that $50,0000 by zeroing out the yearly funding spent on financial assistance for women on Medicaid who require abortion care because of Incapacitating physical or mental fetal deformities. Apparently Republican politicians these days don’t care about being overtly and cartoonishly evil, any more than they care about the brazen hypocrisy of supporting the abortions of Herschel Walker and Donald Trump mistresses.
Miscarriages are stunningly common: one in eight women will have one in their lifetime. When I wrote about being the only legislative candidate in Virginia with clinical abortion experience, I noted that abortions are a fairly routine thing ERs across the country have to do. But by “fairly routine”, I mean that in my twelve years as an ER Nurse, I’ve seen an average of about 2-3 cases a year. On the other hand, I doubt I’ve had a single week of my career where I haven’t had to take care of least one patient having a miscarriage. I see the same number of patients having miscarriages as I do heart attacks; probably more!
And the worst time has been the last three years. I’ve had to take care of more patients having miscarriages in the last three years than in the nine combined preceding it.
I want you to imagine this scene. A packed ER waiting room, filled with patients from infants to seniors, who are obviously suffering from COVID, flu, and RSV, hacking and crying and miserable. It’s maybe a six or eight hour wait to be seen, at minimum. And a patient comes in, sixteen weeks along, with severe abdominal and pelvic pain, Cramping. Spotting. But there is nothing we can do; they have to wait like everyone else.
Finally, the patient rushes to the bathroom. And a minute later, the security guard absolutely screams on the radio for the triage nurse.
The triage nurse rushes in to find the patient miscarrying right there in the triage bathroom. The triage bathroom, where every other sick person visits. Blood everywhere. Sobbing. Incredible pain.
Do you know how many times my colleagues and I had to go through that over the last three years?
Do you have any idea what going through that does to these patients; to those of us who’ve had to help these patients?
Oh, and by the way, now both the nurse and the patient are presumed to be criminals.
Because that’s the only way a fifteen week abortion ban ends up. When you presume any pregnancy that ends after fourteen weeks and six days is a crime, you have to dramatically increase the power of the State to accomplish that.
“What did the nurse see in the bathroom while the patient was in there? What did they tell the triage nurse when she checked in? Did the patient seem suspicious? Are you sure they didn’t seem suspicious? Understand you’re under oath here and if you’re covering for this person, you’re going to do hard time. I’d help you if I could, you know, but that’s the law they passed. You have a future; a family to pay for, a job protecting our community. Don’t jeopardize it by covering for someone like her. Help us put her away for life.”
Now, I can already here the histrionics the right is going to engage in to deflect this. Oh, no, our legislation would never, ever do that, stop scaremongering! What evidence do we have? None, but you can trust us! I mean, do we look like the kind of folks who’d empower people as bounty hunters to go after their fellow citizens?
Folks, Virginia is now ground zero for this, with off-year legislative elections being held that will be widely regarded as the harbinger of 2024, and every Republican who has eyes on the White House certain to show up to make their mark on it. We need your help- we need everyone’s help- to push back on that.
If you want to make a difference, here’s how you can:
1) Donate, volunteer, or get the word out about Aaron Rouse, who has a special election on January 10th that will effectively decide control of the Virginia Senate. I took our entire campaign team to knock doors for him in early December, knowing how much power he will have to keep the above scenario from becoming a reality.
2) Stand up to support local organizations, particularly in rural Virginia – like the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund – doing the critical work to protect access to reproductive healthcare options as Virginia becomes a safe haven for access to care.
3) Stand behind clinicians with the first-hand knowledge to stand on the floor of the General Assembly building and ream these Republicans a new one- because even if they don’t care about being hypocritical and have no desire to follow evidence-based research, we can take their seats and then relentlessly embarrass them and make them a national laughingstock, showing legislators in other state capitols what’s in store for them.
We have to succeed. The consequence of our failure is too big to contemplate.
Kellen Squire is an emergency department nurse from Charlottesville, Virginia, running against the author of Virginia’s transvaginal ultrasound law. Donate today, and help us flip the bluest seat the Virginia GOP still holds!