The following post was written by Layne Diehl in response to constituent requests that she publicly take a position on the issue of abortion as part of her candidacy for the West Virginia House of Delegates 59th District in the 2014 general election:
Abortion is one of the most divisive issues facing American culture today and is one that, if not resolved in a way that allows us all to live together in peace and harmony, could significantly undermine the progress of American ideals throughout our land. We are a nation built and strengthened by our ability to come together with collective solutions that consider all of its people's voices equally and fairly. It is a significant and important challenge that we, as Americans, take up this issue with open hearts and minds and with the desire to understand and to love our neighbors and friends despite where they may stand on this issue.
Like most West Virginians, I believe in the fundamental principles espoused in our US Declaration of Independence and US and WV Constitutions relative to life, liberty, and justice. I believe in the right to life and married the love of my life, Nicolas Diehl, a man who was adopted by his family when his natural mother found herself in an unplanned pregnancy scenario. I cannot even begin to imagine what my life would be missing and the joys I would not have experienced if Nic’s natural mother had opted to terminate her pregnancy with him. Nic and I also have two children of our own and I understand the pressures and responsibilities that go along with having and raising a child. Having a child is a responsibility that begins long before a child is conceived. Ensuring that you have adequate resources, considering the dynamics of your family unit, and taking care of your health and the health of your child are just a few of the important factors that a mature, prudent and caring parent should consider. Engaging in risky sexual activity knowing that such activity may result in pregnancy before you are emotionally and financially ready to have a child is irresponsible. For our society to adopt the use of abortion as a routine birth control method is unconscionable to me, but criminalizing all abortion procedures is not the solution either, as abortions were commonly known to exist even before they were performed in a health care setting. The brutality of illegal abortions performed prior to Roe v. Wade was atrocious and, however we as a society determine to address this issue, we cannot take a step back by returning to a system where these horrendous practices are conducted in back alleys and unsafe, unclean environments.
We must remember that not all abortions are conducted as birth control measures. Many times an abortion is a sad but understandable option when the health and safety of a mother and/or unborn child are at issue. Many times, loving and mature parents very much want an unborn child, but are faced with medical diagnoses that are precarious, and those parents deserve the right to make the difficult decisions that follow privately, in consultation with their health care providers, and without undue government or third party intrusion. Often, young women are objectified and subjected to sex without their consent, and find themselves in desperate situations where abortion may be an alternative. It is not up to me or our government to cast judgment on the women or families who face such legitimately heartbreaking situations.
I have typically steered away from labels of pro-choice and pro-life because I believe that those labels can undermine the need for positive and meaningful discussion of this issue. I have deliberately not sought funding from either pro-life or pro-choice advocacy groups for this purpose. Abortion is a delicate issue affecting families and children, born and unborn, as well as affecting the rights of privacy and to adequate and safe healthcare, particularly in times of distress and deep sadness. I do not believe in undue government intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship and do not believe that legislation on this issue could ever foresee all the various circumstances that may have to be considered by healthcare staff and its patients when making these decisions. Viability of an unborn child and its ability to experience pain are certainly factors that should be considered, but I believe the medical community, as opposed to the legislature, is more qualified to make those determinations. Health care providers are uniquely and appropriately suited to advise their patients accordingly on a case by case basis, to consider with patients all of the circumstances of a particular health situation, and to address with patients the long term health and emotional consequences of a decision given the available alternatives to patients and their families. Therefore, any legislation relative to abortion should give proper deference to our highly trained and qualified health care community.