Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam refused to recant his comments in support of legislation that would have allowed women in his state to request an abortion, even as they are about to give birth.
At a press conference Thursday, Northam responded, “I don’t have any regrets,” to a reporter’s question citing criticism that his comments about the legislation were not helpful.
The Democrat governor, who is also a pediatric neurologist, said his comments were “mischaracterized”:
I’m a physician, I’m also the governor. But when I’m asked questions, a lot of times it is put in the context of being a physician, again, realizing how we approach, how we manage patients, how we offer advice and counseling. So, no, I don’t have any regrets, but I do find how my comments – I did answer that question. I regret that those comments have been mischaracterized. The personal insults toward me I really find disgusting. So, again as I said in my comments just earlier, we can agree to disagree … but let’s be civil about it.
Many Republicans, pro-life leaders, and physicians condemned both the legislation for allowing “infanticide” and Northam for backing it.
President Donald Trump tweeted, “Democrats are becoming the Party of late-term abortion,” and said during an interview with the Daily Caller that he was “surprised” to hear of Northam’s comments that a newborn infant could be left to die if the parents wished.
The Repeal Act – which has since been tabled – would have repealed most of Virginia’s abortion restriction laws and allowed abortion even as a woman is about to give birth, as stated by Democrat Delegate Kathy Tran, who introduced the measure.
Appearing as a guest on WTOP-FM Wednesday, Northam said the fierce reaction to the bill was “really blown out of proportion.”
Asked about a woman requesting abortion at the moment of childbirth, he responded:
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.
If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. 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.
The governor’s response, however, was inconsistent with the actual language of the legislation, which specifically eliminates both the requirement of more than one physician’s “consent” and the need for the presence of serious health issues for the woman.
According to the proposed legislation:
The bill eliminates the requirement that two other physicians certify that a third trimester abortion is necessary to prevent the woman’s death or impairment of her mental or physical health, as well as the need to find that any such impairment to the woman’s health would be substantial and irremediable.
Additionally, research does not support the common pro-abortion-rights narrative that late-term abortions are performed primarily in cases of “severe deformities” or when the unborn baby is determined “non-viable.”
A study released in 2013 by the pro-abortion-rights Guttmacher Institute found that women who were seeking both first-trimester and late-term abortions provided the same reasons for delaying their abortions, including “not knowing about the pregnancy,” “trouble deciding about the abortion,” and “disagreeing about the abortion with the man involved.”
The study found that “most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”
Planned Parenthood also reiterated the false narrative that late-term abortions are performed primarily due to “fetal abnormalities” or “serious risks” to the woman’s health:
During Northam’s campaign for governor in 2017, Planned Parenthood’s Virginia affiliate announced its plans to spend $3 million to help elect him, and Northam said he was “happy” to have the organization’s support:
Northam also made a campaign stop at an abortion facility in Alexandria, Virginia.
Following the heightened firestorm after his radio interview, Northam’s spokesperson released a statement which again claimed, “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.”
“The governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman [facing nonviable pregnancy or severe fetal abnormalities] went into labor,” the statement added.