Virginia late-term abortion bill labelled ‘infanticide’

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Virginia late-term abortion bill labelled 'infanticide'

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A bill that would have allowed late-term abortions in Virginia has led to a conservative outcry, with US President Donald Trump weighing into the furore.

The Democratic-sponsored measure sought to allow abortions at any point during pregnancy including up until the point of childbirth in certain cases.

Critics said the bill, which failed on Monday to be voted out of subcommittee, would have allowed infanticide.

Mr Trump predicted the measure would energise 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 told the Daily Caller in an interview published on Wednesday.

What did the bill propose?

The Democratic bill sought to change current law to allow for late-term abortions if the mother's physical or mental safety are at risk.

Under current Virginia law, third-trimester abortions are only permitted if the risk to the mother's life is "substantial and irremediable" – language that Democrats wanted removed.

It also would have required the sign-off of only one doctor rather than three before the procedure is performed.

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What did Democrats say?

Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam defended the bill in an interview to radio station WTOP.

The paediatric neurologist said the measure allowed termination "in cases where there may be severe deformities" or when there is a "foetus that's not viable" outside the womb.

"So in this particular example, if a mother's in labour, I can tell you exactly what would happen," he told WTOP's Ask the Governor programme Wednesday.

"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."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Governor Northam

More on the US abortion debate

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  • On the battle lines over abortion

After Republicans accused him of advocating for infanticide in his remarks, his spokeswoman said that he was only discussing cases of "tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe foetal abnormalities".

"The governor's comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labour."

Image Copyright @GovernorVA @GovernorVA Report
Twitter post by @GovernorVA: I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting. Image Copyright @GovernorVA @GovernorVA Report

A video of one of the bill's sponsors, Kathy Tran, defending the measure has sparked uproar.

Image Copyright @matthewschmitz @matthewschmitz Report
Twitter post by @matthewschmitz: Watch Kathy Tran (D) struggle to admit that a bill she has introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates would allow abortion up to the point of birth. Image Copyright @matthewschmitz @matthewschmitz Report

What did Republicans say?

Mr 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. That's what they're doing. It's terrible."

The Republican caucus in the Virginia House of Delegates tweeted: "Democrats proposed legislation to allow abortions up to just seconds before that precious child takes their first breath."

"Thankfully, our strong conservative majority was able to defeat this bill," they added.

Image Copyright @DonaldJTrumpJr @DonaldJTrumpJr Report
Twitter post by @DonaldJTrumpJr: This is insanity. Seems like advocating for Post Term Abortion AKA MURDER by any standard I’m aware of. The only thing worse than what the Democrat Governor of VA said was the fact that there’s zero pushback from the host. Image Copyright @DonaldJTrumpJr @DonaldJTrumpJr Report
Image Copyright @marcorubio @marcorubio Report
Twitter post by @marcorubio: I never thought I would see the day America had government officials who openly support legal infanticide. Image Copyright @marcorubio @marcorubio Report
Image Copyright @SarahPalinUSA @SarahPalinUSA Report
Twitter post by @SarahPalinUSA: Those who never imagined society would actually get there - state governments sanctioning infanticide - must logically understand what gets accepted next #deathpanels  - SP Image Copyright @SarahPalinUSA @SarahPalinUSA Report

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