“Misinformation has been circulating on where Virginia Democrats stand on issues related to women’s reproductive health,” said Governor Ralph Northam (D) at a Thursday afternoon press conference. The situation began Tuesday morning after shocking video was released from a House subcommittee meeting detailing a Democratic lawmaker speaking about her late-term abortion bill.
H.B. 2491, introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Springfield), would repeal restrictions on third trimester abortions, allowing abortion doctors to self-certify the necessity of late-term procedures, eliminate informed consent requirements, repeal abortion clinic health and safety standards, permit late-term abortions to be performed in outpatient clinics, remove ultrasound requirements, and eliminate Virginia’s 24-hour waiting period.
In the days since the development, pro-life advocates from across the country have spoken out against the legislation, including President Donald Trump.
“I’m surprised that he did that, I’ve met him a number of times,” Trump said of the governor. The commander in chief also said that Delegate Tran’s remarks were “terrible,” after having seen the video.
At the press conference this afternoon, beside members of the Virginia Democratic leadership, Governor Northam said that he was there “to set the record straight.”
“There’s a fundamental difference between us and Republicans in what we believe on a woman’s right to choose. We believe legislators, most of whom are men, should not be making decisions about women’s choices for their reproductive health.”
Northam added that the Virginia GOP is trying to “score points any way they can.”
“Virginia Democrats know we are better than that,” he added.
Attorney General Mark Herring (D) spoke next. He started off by saying that “desperation can be ugly. And what we saw yesterday from Republicans was desperate and ugly.” He stated that claims from GOP lawmakers that Governor Northam supports infanticide “would be laughable if it wasn’t such a grotesque idea.”
During a Wednesday morning address on WTOP’s “Ask The Governor” segment, Northam commented on the situation surrounding the response to Delegate Tran’s bill by saying the widespread reaction was “blown out of proportion.”
Explaining it himself, he said the following:
“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.”
Conservatives across the Commonwealth and the U.S. quickly condemned Northam’s rhetoric, charging that he “supports infanticide.”
During the press conference, when asked about what he said and if it had been taken out of context, he responded with, “I don’t have any regrets….I regret that those comments have been mischaracterized.”
Regardless, it spurred Republican lawmakers to give emotional speeches on the floor of the House the following day.
Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) made a rare and powerful speech after he stepped of the dais.
“I will never stop fighting for the promise of life as long as I hold a gavel, as long as I can speak into this microphone, as long as I have the privilege of this floor. I promise to fight for the promise of life,” he said.
Delegate Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg) also gave a personal story.
“Mr. Speaker, I’m not going to let anyone take the life of my son, and I’m not going to vote to allow other people to take the lives of other people’s sons,” he proclaimed.
As Virginians continue to reel from this week’s developments, one comment from House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) rings very true.
“I think what my Democratic colleagues are most concerned about is what this moment actually revealed. It was a moment of unbridled honesty about their agenda, and their legislation, and what it actually does.”
Meanwhile, the RTD’s Graham Moomaw asked Democratic minority leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) whether they had any intentions of bringing the infanticide bill back should they capture the majority in the November 2019 elections:
When asked if Democrats would pursue legislation similar to Tran’s if they take control of the House next year, Filler-Corn said that “there’s a lot of support for this type of legislation.”