Following the November election, in which Ralph Northam (D) was elected to become the next Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I began composing a letter to him. Today, Northam was inaugurated . . . and I sent it to him via his official web site. If I receive any response, I will publish it at the end of this post.
I hope and pray that Northam reads it, and that he considers it seriously. I hope you will consider it seriously too. And, as I say in the letter itself, I hope and pray for Northam’s good judgement and success in the coming four years.
Dear Governor Northam:
Congratulations on your inauguration as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia!
I did not vote for you, but I congratulate you none-the-less. For the next four years, you will be my governor. I will support you when I think you are right, and criticize you when I think you are wrong. In either case, I will always address you with respect and civility. And I will always hope and pray for your good judgement and your success.
I want to bring up one specific area of disagreement I have with you, and I want to ask you—very seriously and prayerfully—to reconsider your position.
That issue is abortion.
As a progressive, I know that you believe in supporting the disadvantaged. You want all people to be treated fairly. You believe that human rights are important. And I know that when you speak of abortion rights, you put it in terms that reflect these high ideals. And yet the position that you take—that abortion should be legal and easy to obtain—is one that runs directly counter to them.
As a physician, you must know that life begins at conception. Each person, once conceived, has unique human DNA. That person’s body immediately begins to grow according to its own genetic blueprint. That person has inherent, unmeasurable value, and unalienable human rights. Yes, this person is reliant upon his or her mother for support and sustenance . . . but so is a newborn, or a month-old, or a year-old baby. Reliance on another does not negate one’s humanity. I hope you would agree that no parent has a right to kill their child just because their child relies on them! Every parent is obligated to support their children. They cannot neglect them. They cannot kill them. And when they do, the state can and should treat that act as a horrific crime against the child, against the state, and against humanity itself.
You are now the governor of all Virginians. This includes those Virginians who still reside in their mother’s womb. I was once one of them. So were you. But your political party has chosen to treat these people, the most vulnerable among us, as if they are not people at all.
Part of the legal justification for the Holocaust was that those people the Nazis wished to kill—the Jews, the mentally disabled, Africans, homosexuals, and others—were defined as “Untermensch” (subhuman) or “Lebensunwertes Leben” (life unworthy of life). History has rightly rejected the Nazis’ false, limited definition of humanity, and rightly condemns those who developed and believed in it. Those who claim that unborn children are nonpersons will, eventually, face the same judgement by a more enlightened posterity.
Perhaps you have not thought of abortion in these terms. Perhaps you have not dared to think of the invisible minority in the womb as being people just like you . . . people with the same God-given human rights that you and I have . . . people whose rights are being trampled every day here in the Commonwealth. But you can. And you should.
Not that long ago, the mainstream view in the Democratic Party was that African-Americans were not really people either. But the party reformed itself. Once the unapologetic party of slavery and Jim Crow laws, Democrats now champion civil rights for racial minorities. This reform is possibly its greatest accomplishment. It can change in the same way with regard to abortion, and you can help lead it.
Today, you and your party treat the unborn as nonpersons . . . as impersonal objects to be used when convenient, or destroyed when inconvenient. But you do not strike me as the kind of person who might really, truly believe that this is acceptable or right. I disagree with you on many issues, but I do not think you are a ghoul or a monster. I do not think you are evil or hate-filled. I think you, like many in your political party, haven’t thought this issue through to its logical conclusions, and haven’t reconsidered it in light of what medical science has revealed about early fetal development. So I am asking you to put aside your party’s talking points and your preconceived notions and, instead, acknowledge and embrace the truth.
The single greatest reason I opposed your election is because you, and your political party, denied the right of every human being to live. This is the right upon which every other right is predicated. This is the first right that another Governor of Virginia once listed when he cataloged the fundamental rights of man in our Declaration of Independence.
You now have one of the greatest political platforms in our nation. You hold the office once held by Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe. You have been given a great honor by the people of Virginia, but you have also been invested with great responsibility. I hope that you will rise to it by acknowledging, once and for all, that all Virginians—born and unborn—have the unalienable right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. You have the opportunity to govern in accord with the ideals that Jefferson put so beautifully and succinctly. This is your chance to be, as some in your party like to say, on the “right side of history.”
Thank you for your time. God bless you, Governor Northam. I wish you all of the best in the next four years.
Citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Update, January 22, 2019: More than a year has passed without response, so today I sent a lightly modified version of this letter to Governor Northam via postal mail.
Update, May 9, 2022: Governor Northam left office this January. Neither he, nor any of his staff, ever responded to my message.