Last week, Ralph Northam, Virginia’s embattled governor, signed legislation that makes animal cruelty a Class 6 felony, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and a prison sentence of up to five years. That’s okay, I guess. Animal cruelty should be punished harshly in extreme cases.
But what about extreme cruelty to humans? Northam supports legislation that, as he described it, permits such cruelty in the form of infanticide.
Specifically, Northam backs a bill proposed in the Virginia legislature under which, according to the governor, newborns would be allowed to die if that’s what the mother wanted. Northam described what would happen under the legislation this way:
The infant would 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.
Maybe I’m guilty of “speciesism” (I prefer to think of it as humanism), but I can’t fathom how one can be attuned to preventing cruelty to animals yet support letting a human being die without medical treatment. We’re talking here about an entity that’s no longer in the womb. We’re talking about a baby.
Northam isn’t alone among Democrats in favoring the denial of medical treatment to such babies if that’s what “the mother and the family desire.” Indeed, Senate Democrats refused to repudiate Northam’s position. They blocked a resolution condemning the practice Northam describes so blithely.
If we’re really at the point where our country can’t agree that killing babies who have been born is always wrong, then it’s not easy to see how we remain one society, no matter how strongly we agree that cruelty to animals is wrong.