Virginia Late-Term Abortion Debate Heats Up Following Termination During Labor Comment

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House Republicans in Virginia recently engaged in a heated Q&A with Democrat Kathy Tran. During this process, Tran was asked by Republican Todd Gilbert to clarify one specific point of a proposed bill regarding late-term abortions.

“Where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth…would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion?”

The answer was “yes,” and the Virginia House GOP posted this exchange to Twitter in a 57-second video clip that doesn’t provide any other context for the incendiary topic. Unsurprisingly, the clip has gone viral, attracting more than 6,300 comments and 9,100 retweets within 48 hours.

Per Bustle, the most important part of this entire exchange has been left on the cutting room floor. While it is true that the newly-introduced bill would simplify the process of getting a medically-necessary abortion in the third trimester, this legislative suggestion would not make late-term abortions legal in the state for the first time. Instead, the bill would simply add to an existing Virginia state law that already allows abortions throughout the entire third trimester.

NBC News reported about Dr. Daniel Grossman’s insights into late-term abortions. Grossman indicated that most abortions after 20 weeks occur because severe fetal abnormalities are discovered. The decision to abort a fetus at this stage is typically made to prevent the birth of a child who would otherwise be in severe pain if they even managed to survive outside the womb.

Other doctors have taken to Twitter to dispel myths about late-term abortions, citing the health of both the fetus and the mother as the primary reasons for these procedures.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the existing legislation in Virginia states that late-term abortions are permissible “if the woman is otherwise likely to die or substantially and irredeemably suffer mentally or physically.” The proposed changes would remove three words from that sentence: “substantially and irredeemably.”

The Democrat-backed bill also seeks a reduction in the burden placed upon the mother when it comes to proving she should be allowed to get an abortion. Currently, late-term abortions in Virginia need to be verified as medically necessary by three medical professionals. This is an expensive and time-consuming process that can put the mother’s life at an even higher risk. If the new bill passes, women would only need the verification of one doctor to move forward.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam clarified that abortions are not actually performed in the state after a woman goes into labor.

Gov. Ralph Northam speaking during campaign
Virginia GovernorRalph Northam.Featured image credit: Win McNameeGetty Images

However, Northam also stated that the decision of whether or not to resuscitate a newly-born baby who has severe fetal defects will be left up to the mother and her attending physicians. This comment ignited a new round of controversy on Twitter, proving that the debate over Virginia’s late-term abortion laws is far from over.