Virginia Democratic governor Ralph Northam said he believes physicians should not have to provide treatment to babies who survive abortion until they have "had a discussion" with the mother about whether to treat the child.
Northam, a career doctor, made the remarks on WTOP amid discussion of a bill sponsored by Delegate Kathy Tran in Virginia that would allow for abortion up until delivery. The first-term Democrat said the abortion survivor "would be kept comfortable," but would not be given treatment until the doctor consulted with the mother about whether or not to keep the baby alive.
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"The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable," he said. "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 mother."
His remarks drew the ire of Democrats for Life spokeswoman Kristen Day. The pro-life group celebrated the Virginia bill's death in committee, but said that Northam and other Democrats "need to stop buying … the idea that a baby is not human." The only discussion about how to treat an abortion survivor, according to Day, is whether or not to put the baby up for adoption.
"There is no reason that there should be a discussion on whether to provide healthcare—particularly when every second matters," she told the Washington Free Beacon. "As Democrats, don't we say, health care is a right for everyone not a privilege for a few? It is inconsistent to say a baby born doesn't have this right unless the Governor has a different view of when life begins."
Virginia is one of several states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, to take aim at restrictions on late-term abortion after New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing abortion up until birth for any reason on Jan. 22. Tran defended her bill even as she acknowledged that it would allow for abortions up until the point of birth. Susan Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said the bill provided "alarming clarity" about the direction abortion supporters are taking the Democratic Party.
"Delegate Tran's bill reveals with alarming clarity what the modern Democratic Party stands for and their agenda for our nation—abortion on demand, up until the moment of delivery and even beyond," she said. "This position is irreconcilable with the beliefs, values, and desires of the overwhelming majority of Americans."
Public polling has consistently found that a majority of Americans—including many self-identified pro-choicers—support restrictions or other abortion reforms. A Marist Poll commissioned by the Catholic Knights of Columbus found that abortion supporters outnumbered pro-lifers by a 55-38 margin, but the same poll found there was consensus about limits on when pregnant women can get abortions. Only 25 percent of pro-choice people said they favored total access throughout pregnancy, while 61 percent favored limits to only the first trimester or if other conditions, such as saving the life of the mother, were met, according to the poll. Only 23 percent of all people polled said they support abortion beyond the first trimester.
Gov. Northam said that the only people who support restrictions on abortion are "legislators, most of whom are men."
Day, the Democrats for Life official, objected to the caricature of the pro-life movement. She extended an invitation for Gov. Northam to meet some of his pro-life Democratic constituents at Virginia's March for Life rally in April.
"As a pro-life woman and leader in this field, I can attest that a majority of pro-life groups are led by women and some of the strongest advocates against abortion that I know are women," she said. "The governor's attempt to paint the pro-life movement as white men is far off base."