Life and Choice in Virginia

by Emily Jasper on February 22, 2012

Virginia is in the middle of an emotional legislative move that appears to have dismissed some of the facts. Abortion legislation is adding tests and wait time to the procedure, I assume in an effort to demonstrate that there is life at the moment of conception.

“The ultrasound legislation would require women to undergo a test to determine the gestation age of the fetus, hear the heartbeat and be given an opportunity to see the images,” according to The Washington Post.

While you may stand very firmly on either side of the line, recent news about the Governor’s pause in his support of the bill reminds people that a moral issue also has medical and business implications.

The medical issue comes at supporters being unaware that at early stages of pregnancy, an ultrasound isn’t the wand with the blue gel on the tummy. Instead it is a wand for internal examination, a procedure itself that is more invasive than what bill supporters may have originally thought.

The business issue is that added tests required by legislation may not be covered by insurance. Insurance has become a key player recently, primarily in regards to Catholic organizations being required to cover contraception. There are huge political implications here, but there are also business ones. Essentially, it comes down to who foots the bill? This might be a bill that impacts how individuals cover the procedure, but it is another opportunity for the government to step in and say what a business should and should not cover. Business and government are blending so much that we may lose sight of times we should let business be business.

I bring all of this up not because the discussion about abortion is so heated right now. I bring this up because it is a good example of how complex these issues really are. Sometimes, a belief is not enough if you are deciding on behalf of others.

From a strategic standpoint, Edward Freeman might say that all this legislation is ignoring the key stakeholders. Sure, in some element, certain groups’ interests are being addressed (it is an election year after all); however, the medical and business community appear to have a selective say in a moral argument.

Beyond stakeholder theory, Robert Kaplan would argue that you need to create a strategy first, then address the stakeholders. Essentially something marketers understand as “not being all things to all people.”

Perhaps that’s what we’re dealing with here. Select groups are being addressed in this legislation, and others are not. Perhaps that is the strategy.

You can take any number of the major issues being debated right now and see that many make them black and white. However, this change in the perception of the Virginia Governor makes it clear that issues are really gray. He may go forward and sign the bill, but you can already see he is a bit more informed than he may have been at the beginning.

I am not asking which side you stand on. If you feel that a decision was a knee-jerk reaction, ask, “Why?” Do what you can to find out more about the decisions of others, so you know how to help make informed decisions yourself. Then even if the decision still follows your belief system, you are still being informed.