The Corner

Health Care

Virginia Governor Defends Letting Infants Die

This morning on WTOP’s “Ask The Governor,” Virginia governor Ralph Northam defended the new abortion bill introduced by state Democrats this month, the Repeal Act, which would legalize abortion up to the point of birth.

The interviewer brought up Monday’s committee hearing, during which Democratic delegate Kathy Tran, the chief sponsor of the bill, stated that her legislation would allow a woman to receive an abortion even while she was going into labor. The host then asked Northam whether he supports the bill and asked him to explain Tran’s comment.

“This is why decisions such as this should be made by providers, physicians, and the mothers and fathers that are involved,” Northam said. “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physician — more than one physician, by the way — and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s non-viable.”

Northam is either unaware of the specifics of the bill, or he’s lying about them. Tran’s legislation explicitly removes the current requirement that three physicians agree that a woman is in need of a late-term abortion. The new bill would require only the consent of the mother and of the physician performing the abortion. But he went on to say something even more heinous.

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he continued. “The infant would be delivered. 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 the mother.”

He added that he thinks the furor over the bill and Tran’s comments “was really blown out of proportion.”

Update 1:40 p.m.: Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) gave a statement to National Review this afternoon in response to Northam’s comments. Sasse is the author of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would impose penalties on physicians that refuse medical care to infants born alive in botched abortion procedures.  “This is morally repugnant,” Sasse said of Northam’s comments. “In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide.’ I don’t care what party you’re from — if you can’t say that it’s wrong to leave babies to die after birth, get the hell out of public office.”

Spokespersons for Virginia senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, have not yet responded to National Review’s request for comment on the bill.

Update 3:50 p.m.: A spokesperson for Northam has released a statement appearing to walk back the Democratic governor’s comments from this morning’s appearance on WTOP: “No woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor,” the statement read in part. “Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal medical decisions.” The full statement can be found here, and Jack Crowe has more details, too.

Update 4:50 p.m.Late this afternoon, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) called for the Senate to vote on Republican senator Lindsey Graham’s Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — which bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on scientific research suggesting that fetuses can begin to feel pain at that stage of development — in light of Northam’s comments in this morning’s interview. He also noted that the Democratic primary candidates for president should be asked about their stance on extreme abortion bills such as those in Virginia and New York.

Watch the video here:

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