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Dem bill in Virginia would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions

Dem bill in Virginia would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions
© Greg Nash

A Democratic-backed bill proposed in Virginia's state legislature that would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions has sparked major conservative backlash this week.

The legislation would eliminate the requirement that abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy occur at state-licensed hospitals and would require only one doctor to determine if a pregnancy threatens the woman's life or health to allow abortions in the third trimester.

Under current Virginia law a doctor and two consulting physicians are needed to make that determination.

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The bill is unlikely to pass given Republicans control the House of Delegates and was tabled on Monday.

But a video clip of Delegate Kathy Tran (D) defending her proposed bill has since gone viral.

In the video, Virginia state House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R) questioned Tran about when an abortion would be permissible. 

“Where it's obvious that a woman is about to give birth ... she has physical signs that she is about to give birth would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so certified? If she's dilating?” Gilbert asked.

“Mr. Chairman, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make at that point,” Tran responded.

“I understand that,” Gilbert said. “I'm asking if your bill allows that."

“My bill would allow that, yes," she says.

The video had been shared more than 1.5 million times by Wednesday morning.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyTrump critics push new direction for GOP Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE shared the video clip on Twitter, saying it "literally makes me sick to my stomach.”

Tran, who deleted her Twitter account soon after the criticism began, released a statement Wednesday about the bill urging lawmakers to "trust women to make their own healthcare decisions."

"These decisions are personal and private, and they are made in consultation with doctors who are using their best medical judgement," she said, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. "I regret that these partisan games have taken the focus away from where it should be: on the Virginian women who have asked for this bill to get politicians out of their private medical decisions."

In an interview with local radio station WTOP on Wednesday morning, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said the situation had been "really blown out of proportion."

“We want the government to not be involved in these types of decisions," he said. "We want the decisions to be made by the mothers and their providers.”

Several Republicans blasted Northam over another portion of the interview, when he discusses abortions in the third trimester.

When asked about third trimester abortions specifically, the governor said, "If a mother is in labor ... the infant would be delivered."

"The infant would be kept comfortable," he continued. "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."

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAlabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs daylight savings bill Study: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (R-Fla.) tweeted that he "never thought I would see the day America had government officials who openly support legal infanticide."

"This is morally repugnant. In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide,'" Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline attack underscores US energy's vulnerabilities | Biden leading 'whole-of-government' response to hack | Attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap Instagram for kids MORE (R-Neb.) said in a statement. "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 office said in a statement to The Hill that his comments in the radio interview had been taken out of context.

“The governor's comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor,” Northam communications director Ofirah 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.”