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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam
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Congress should be bipartisan in opposing the killing of born-alive babies

Tony Perkins Tony Perkins

February 6, 2019 (Family Research Council) – Virginia's abortion-up-until-birth bill (HB 2491) may be dead, but the matter is far from resolved as Virginians – and Americans all across the country – have been awakened by the Left's abortion blitz. Earlier this week, Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran, a Democrat, admitted her bill would allow abortion throughout all stages of pregnancy including during labor. In what was supposed to be a rescue mission for big abortion's push to expand their abortion business in the Commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam (D), a pediatric neurologist, appeared on radio yesterday to defend Delegate Tran's bill. When asked if he supported Tran's abortion-up-until-birth bill, and if he cared to comment on Tran's admission that the bill would allow abortion in the 40thweek of pregnancy, Northam didn't just come to Tran's defense – he left many wondering if he supports allowing infants born alive after a failed abortion to die:

When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician by the way. And it is done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that is 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 ensure between the physicians and the mother.

Northam seems to admit that he's perfectly OK with letting babies born alive die after a botched abortion, so long as that is the wish of the parents and their physician. During the interview, Northam did mention the rare instances in which some late-term abortions are performed when a fetus is "non-viable," or for cases of severe deformities. But he didn't discuss hospice care for born alive babies with a serious illness. Instead, his comments were anything but clear.

follow-up statement from Northam's office attempted to justify the governor's comments saying: "[n]o woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as 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." But this isn't exactly accurate. In fact, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute admitted in a 2013 study that those are not the only reasons a woman would seek an abortion in the third trimester: "most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment."

Northam may try to rewrite his comments to mean it's acceptable to deny life-saving treatment only in cases when there are severe deformities, or a fetus is non-viable, but that's not what he said. Northam may not be backing down from his statement, but Virginia Delegate Dawn Adams (D), a nurse practitioner, and co-sponsor of the abortion-up-until-birth bill, issued an apology to her constituents for supporting the bill.

It's a rare moment of honesty from the pro-abortion crowd acknowledging that their abortion-expansion agenda might be going too far. But if HB 2491 were to become law, it would remove the requirement in current law that two physicians certify in writing that the abortion is necessary to prevent the serious harm to the health, or life, of the mother. In other words, it makes it much easier for an abortionist to claim the abortion was necessary. We should all agree that the killing of a baby born alive, whether by withholding lifesaving care, or by any other means (intentional or not), is repugnant.

In 2002, President George Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which recognized and defined any child surviving a botched abortion as a full person under the federal law. While this is a good start, federal law still lacks an enforcement mechanism to hold abortionists accountable for killing, harvesting organs, or denying medical care to infants born alive. The good news is Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse's (R) Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act does exactly that. This is something Congress should surely have bipartisan support passing.

Published with permission from the Family Research Council.

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