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

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.