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Virginia late-term abortion bill: Trump wades into furore

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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 bill sought to allow abortions at any point during pregnancy including up until the point of childbirth in certain cases.

Virginia’s governor has been criticised for defending the bill, with some accusing him of endorsing infanticide.

Mr Trump predicted that the bill 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.

Mr Trump’s comments come after Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam gave an interview to radio station WTOP in which he defended the bill.

The measure failed on Monday to be voted out of subcommittee.

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.

What did Democrats say?

Governor Northam, a paediatric neurosurgeon, defended the bill, saying that it 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.”

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Reuters

Image caption

Governor Northam


More on the US abortion debate


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.”

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.



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