What to Know
- Virginia law already permits third-trimester abortions. Del. Kathy Tran's bill would have cut the number of doctors required to approve it.
- President Donald Trump said, "Do you remember when I said Hillary Clinton was willing to rip the baby out of the womb? That’s what it is."
- Tran said Thursday that her failed bill would have repealed "medically unnecessary and unduly burdensome barriers" to abortion.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence weighed in on controversy in Virginia over a state lawmaker's failed bill related to late-term abortion.
Trump criticized Del. Kathy Tran for introducing a bill that would have required only one doctor, not three doctors, to certify that a third-trimester abortion was necessary to prevent a woman's death or harm to her physical or mental health.
"I thought it was terrible," Trump said in an interview with the conservative news and opinion website The Daily Caller. "Do you remember when I said Hillary Clinton was willing to rip the baby out of the womb? That’s what it is. That’s what they’re doing. It’s terrible," he added. The interview was published Wednesday night.
The president said he saw viral video of Tran discussing the bill before a House committee on Monday but had not heard comments Wednesday by Gov. Ralph Northam, who also is being slammed by conservatives.
A minute-long video clip tweeted by the state House of Delegates Republican Caucus created a national firestorm on social media. The video shows Tran explain her bill to loosen state rules on late-term abortions.
Del. Todd Gilbert asks if, under her bill, an abortion could be performed even when a woman is dilating, ready to give birth.
"I'm asking if your bill allows that," Gilbert asks in the clip.
"My bill would allow that. Yes," Tran replies.
The video had been viewed more than 3.3 million times as of Thursday morning.
Vice President Mike Pence weighed in on Thursday, publishing an essay titled "Life Is Under Attack" in the National Review. Pence called the bill in Virginia, as well as an abortion bill approved in New York, "a call to action for all Americans."
"A society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, and it would be unconscionable for us to let this moment pass in silence," Pence wrote. "We must recommit ourselves, today and every day, to restoring the sanctity of life to the center of American law."
Trump said he thought the uproar would be a boost to the anti-abortion movement.
"This is going to lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it’s never been lifted up before," he said.
Tran said in a video published to her campaign's Facebook page Thursday morning that she would continue to "make sure that politicians don't get between a woman and her health care decisions."
She said her bill would repeal the "medically unnecessary and unduly burdensome barriers that Virginian women face when they're accessing this health care service."
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, defended Tran in an interview Wednesday with News4's Julie Carey on WTOP and said women only seek late-term abortions in tragic, difficult circumstances.
Conservative opponents are misrepresenting Tran's and Northam's remarks, Ofirah Yheskel, a spokeswoman for Northam 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," Yheskel said in a statement.
Virginia law already permits third-trimester abortions. Tran's bill, which was proposed in previous legislative sessions, would have cut the number of doctors required to approve such an abortion. Also, it would have allowed second-trimester abortions to be performed outside a hospital, such as in a clinic.
Some asked on Thursday why the issue was drawing so much attention, since Tran's bill failed. It's all about politics, said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Abortion is a highly emotional issue that motivates voters to turn out, as 2019 is an election year for Virginia state legislators.
Republicans currently hold a narrow majority in the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia is one of only a handful of states to hold legislative elections later this year, and Democrats have a strong chance of taking control.