Virginia governor dismisses delegate's late-term abortion comments: 'Really blown out of proportion'

By | January 30, 2019

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran’s controversial comments about a proposed bill to roll back restrictions on third-trimester abortions were “really blown out of proportion.”

In an interview with WTOP’s “Ask The Governor” on Wednesday, Northam defended Tran’s bill, which Tran acknowledged on Monday would let a woman who was dilated and about to give birth receive a third-trimester abortion.

“I think this was really blown out of proportion,” he said. “We want the government to not be involved in these types of decisions. We want the decisions to be made by the mothers and their providers.”

“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 nonviable.”

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam said. “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.”

Although current Virginia law requires three physicians to agree that a third-trimester abortion in necessary because the mother’s life or health would be jeopardized otherwise, Tran’s Repeal Act only requires the mother and the physician be in agreement.

But Northam still believes that several physicians should be consulted before conducting a late-term abortion.

“Well, I think it’s always good to get a second opinion and for at least two providers to be involved in that decision because these decisions shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Northam said.

The Repeal Act was set aside by a subcommittee earlier this week.

In response to Northam, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., told conservative National Review that the remarks were “morally repugnant.”

“This is morally repugnant,” Sasse said in a statement. “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.”

Northam’s Communications Director Ofirah Yheskel responded to the criticism and said that it highlighted why physicians and women, rather than the government, should determine when a late-term abortion is necessary.

“Republicans in Virginia and across the country are trying to play politics with women’s health, and that is exactly why these decisions belong between a woman and her physician, not legislators, most of whom are men,” Yheskel said in a statement.

“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 the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor,” Yheskel said. “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.”

This month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that made it lawful for women to receive abortions after 24 weeks when “there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient’s life or health.”