News & Politics

Virginia Governor Defends Infanticide Comments, Slams 'Bad Faith' Interpretations

Virginia Governor Defends Infanticide Comments, Slams 'Bad Faith' Interpretations
Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam speaks to volunteers ready to canvas neighborhoods in Roanoke on Nov. 6, 2017. (Erica Yoon/The Roanoke Times via AP)

On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) defended infanticide in the cases of a baby surviving a botched abortion. As news of his comments spread, the governor defended them, insisting that Republicans who interpreted his comments to mean what they did are acting “in bad faith.”

“Republicans in Virginia and across the country are trying to play politics with women’s health, and that is exactly why these decisions belong between a woman and her physician, not legislators, most of whom are men,” Ofirah Yheskel, a Northam spokesman, said in a statement.

Yheskel insisted that “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, 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.”

“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,” he added. “Virginia law currently prohibits third trimester abortions, except in the extreme circumstances in which a woman’s life or health is at risk and that risk is certified by three physicians.”

Northam’s radio remarks, however, clearly defended a physician’s decision to give palliative care — rather than life-saving care — to an infant born alive. After birth, he said, “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 & mother.”

Even if the baby has “severe fetal abnormalities,” leaving the child to die after birth is still infanticide, the killing of an infant.

Northam would likely focus on the cases where such abnormalities would make the baby unable to live, but the abortion bill he supports would expand the scope of a doctor’s discretion on whether to perform an “abortion” even after birth.

As Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Springfield) testified, her REPEAL Act (H.B. 2491) would change Virginia law so that just one doctor — rather than the three doctors Northam referenced — could decide whether delivering a baby would be hazardous enough to a mother’s life or health to justify getting an abortion — even at the beginning of labor.

As Ricochet’s Bethany Mandel noted, this blank check on doctors should concern Virginians, because it would only take one doctor to make the decision.

“The folks claiming ‘no doctor would do a needless abortion on a viable healthy baby and no woman would sign up for that’ have never heard of Kermit Gosnell or his many patients, eh? Wish it had been more than just a local crime story,” Mandel tweeted.

Tragically, Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell ran a disgusting abortion clinic dubbed the “house of horrors” due to unsterilized equipment and his penchant for performing dangerous late-term abortions. One woman died at his clinic, and he was convicted on three counts of murder for the infanticide of infants and one count of manslaughter for the woman who died during one of his many abortions.

Gosnell is the exception, not the rule, but if a doctor does not have to certify the health risk to the mother with other physicians before performing a late-term abortion, horror stories like Gosnell’s become more plausible. A doctor could be convinced that a woman’s mental health is damaged by her becoming a mother, and that doctor could gain the reputation of being willing to perform late-term abortions on the flimsiest of excuses.

Cases like that of Gosnell demonstrate why states have laws against late-term abortions and why many states require abortionists to provide life-saving care if a baby is born alive in a botched abortion. Infanticide is a serious matter, and it should be a matter of law because the law protects life.

Thankfully, even the abortion bill supported by Delegate Tran would keep in place protections for infants born alive. Contrary to Northam’s comments, Virginia law does not presently allow — nor would the current law condone — infanticide.

Northam’s defense of his original comments, that he’d rather see a hands-off approach that allows such decisions to be made solely between a woman and her (solitary) doctor, is still a defense of infanticide, even if only in extremely rare cases.

With all due respect to Scott Adams, this is not “fake news.”

Northam also tweeted a defense that does not explain away his infanticide comments. “I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting,” he declared.

Yet the video does not lie.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.