Last Friday, the United States Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which guaranteed Americans' constitutional right to have abortions. On Tuesday night, the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia hosted a Zoom event to celebrate the court's decision.
At the event, Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears rejected abortion rights entirely and claimed that after conception, "The baby isn't even [the mother's] body, she's got her own body. The blood running through the veins of the baby don't belong to her, it's not her blood."
This claim is false. Until birth, a fetus' blood is not oxygenated and receives everything necessary for survival from the mother's blood. The fetus is sustained by nutrients and oxygen passed through the placenta, which the mother grows. While in the womb, the fetus' liver and lungs are not fully formed, and the mother's body performs those life-sustaining functions.
Sears also referenced a widely debunked conspiracy theory, saying that "abortuaries sell baby parts" — a relatively common talking point in the anti-abortion movement, which originates in claims from 2015 that Planned Parenthood sells and profits off of the sale of post-abortion fetal tissue. Even Republican-led investigations found no substance to the claim, but the idea persists. A number of Planned Parenthood clinics do donate fetal tissue to medical research institutions, but never for a profit.
"Let's come back to, we're talking about two lives, not just one, because the mother is not having a lizard, she's having a human being who's half part of her. And the baby has its own body and the blood that is running through the baby isn't even her blood, so there's two separate bodies," Sears said.
The Family Foundation of Virginia is a Christian nonprofit that opposes abortion and LGBTQ rights.
Other speakers at the virtual event included Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas, state Sen. Steve Newman, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who called the Court's decision an "amen moment" and reiterated his stance as a "pro-life governor" who believes that "life begins at inception."
A Youngkin spokesman clarified to the Washington Post that the governor meant to say "conception."
At present, Virginia allows abortion until the end of the second trimester, or 26 weeks, and in the third trimester only if three physicians certify that the mother’s health is at serious risk.
Youngkin, who, as previously reported by The American Independent Foundation, was caught on a hidden camera during his campaign saying that he had to hide his anti-abortion views for fear of alienating moderate voters, announced his administration would push for a 15-week abortion ban the day the Court overturned Roe.
While Republicans control the House of Delegates, Democrats have a one-vote majority in the state Senate. However, one member of the Democratic caucus — Sen. Joe Morrissey — could break with his party to pass an abortion ban. Morrissey, a Roman Catholic, has said he would consider a ban on the procedure starting around the 20th week of pregnancy. At that point, Sears, as the lieutenant governor, would cast the tie-breaking vote.
The Jamaican-born Sears, the first Black woman to hold statewide office in the Commonwealth, previously scrubbed her positions from her campaign website, including her view that abortion rights are "wicked" and that "gun control laws DO NOT deter crime." After the May 28 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and three adults dead, Sears rejected the idea that guns were to blame, and argued that the root cause was that "we have emasculated our men."
Abortion rights are still broadly popular in Virginia. Polling conducted in the wake of the leaked draft decision overturning Roe found that 59% of residents did not support the Court's decision.
But Sears was quick to reject popular opinion on Tuesday night. "The fight has only just begun," she said. "I am on the side of right. This is the right thing ... and God is pleased, so it doesn't really matter."
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.