Capitol Hill Democrats Respond To Late-Term Abortion Debate Within Party

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Most Democrats on Capitol Hill appeared uncomfortable, unable or unwilling to discuss recent state legislature bills that would allow abortions up to the point of birth Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed earlier in the day at her weekly press conference that she was unaware of comments made by Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam when he was asked on WTOP about the Repeal Act, legislation that would allow termination of a pregnancy up until the day a woman gives birth. (RELATED: Pelosi Refuses To Acknowledge Northam’s Late-Term Abortion Comments)

“If a mother is in labor…the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable,” Northam said. “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 mother.”

The Virginia bill that loosened regulations on abortions was proposed by Democratic Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran. It failed in committee over in Richmond, but Northam’s defense of it drew criticism across the country.

Prior to Northam’s own remarks, a video clip of Tran confirming her bill would allow abortions up until the day of birth went viral.

A similar piece of legislation in New York known as the “Reproductive Health Act” easily passed both Democrat-controlled chambers in the state and was signed by New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Now, other states are considering such legislation, including Rhode Island, Maryland, Maine and New Mexico, the Associated Press reported.

Anti-abortion activists participate in the “March for Life,” an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Coverage of Gov. Northam’s comments went beyond just conservative media outlets and talking heads. New York Magazine, CNNThe Washington Post, NPR, NBC News, CBS News and ABC News, among others, all covered Gov. Northam’s remarks, yet many lawmakers claim they had no idea what he said or did not want to talk about the Virginia bill at all.

  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)  
    “I have to look at what you’re talking about. I don’t know which bill you’re talking about.” (New York’s and Virginia’s bills)

Q: “Have you heard about Gov. Northam’s comments about late-term abortions?”

“I don’t know.”

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

“I haven’t seen them…”  (on Gov. Northam’s comments)

  • Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

“I don’t know what he said. I don’t know what he said.”  (on Gov. Northam’s comments)

“I don’t want to comment on that.” (On the Virginia REPEAL ACT)

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) 

“I haven’t seen anything. I’ve been in retreats. Obviously, I just got out of a meeting.” (on Gov. Northam’s comments)

  • Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT)

“I have no idea what he said. I have no idea what has happened there. I do follow the governor of Vermont though, all the time.” (on Gov. Northam’s comments)

  • Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)

“I know what it is about. I have not listened.” (on Gov. Northam’s comments)

Other Democratic lawmakers who appeared aware of the current ongoing debate related to late-term abortion bills spoke to TheDC as well and described their support for the Supreme Court’s 1975 Roe v. Wade decision and/or their support for their state’s current laws.

“Delegate Tran has a bill to change existing Virginia law. I support the existing Virginia law, which has been in place since the mid-70s and it puts conditions upon a third-trimester abortion. I support the existing law, not the Tran bill. I don’t think the existing law needs to be changed.”

Q: What about (Gov. Northam’s) comments on WTOP?

“I’m not going to comment about comments. I’ll just tell you the existing Virginia law, I think, is the right law, and it’s consistent with Roe versus Wade, where the state is able to impose meaningful regulations of a third trimester of pregnancy.”

Q: “Would you consider those meaningful regulations?”

“Well, they’re the ones that are currently there. So, the current law is that if somebody wants to get an abortion in the third trimester in Virginia—and I think the law is similar in many places—the individual has to get an attestation by three physicians.”

“I guess one of her own and then two consulting physicians that the abortion would either cause her death or have a significant effect on her health, and that law’s been in place since I think 1975.  And I think that that law should stay in place.”

Q: “Was Tran’s bill a little radical?”

“I’ll tell you as I support the existing law. I don’t think it needs to be changed.”

“You know everybody — that’s a matter of conscience how people feel. I have pretty strong views about that — woman’s right of choice.”

 “I’m pro-choice and I support Connecticut’s laws regarding choice, so Connecticut’s not talking about changing its laws.”

“This is what I think about all of this. I think people need to sit down and talk a little bit about what we can do to keep people—women—from having to make very, very difficult choices.”

Q: “Do support partial birth abortion?”

“I support the law as it stands right now and that’s what we’re going to stick with, and I just think that we all need to speak a little bit together and talk about how we can do to…”

Q: “Do you think New York should have passed that bill?”

“I don’t speak for New York.”

Q: “Do you think Alabama should pass that bill?”

“I don’t speak for the state legislature.”

“I support Roe v. Wade. Ok? That’s the only thing that I support.”

Q: “So, a ninth month abortion is okay with you?”

“You know what I didn’t say. I know the game you’re playing. I support Roe v. Wade which is, you know, the second trimester and I support Roe v. Wade and its limitations.”

“That’s an issue for the state Senate but I think what they did was the right thing to give women the right to make choices.”

Q: “So, you support a baby being aborted up to the ninth month?”

“I support a woman making that decision for herself.”

Q: “Do you personally support a woman…”

“I’m not supposed to legislate my personal feelings. We’re supposed to legislate what is right for the public.”

Q: “Why is this question uncomfortable for you?”

(Rep. Serrano did not respond.)

“I think it’s a great statement for women’s rights. New York has always been a flagship state for human rights-civil rights, the home of the women’s movement in Seneca Falls. The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced there. It’s very fitting that New York should be the first state to ratify codified put into law of Roe v. Wade. I think it’s the right thing to have done and I support.”

Q: “Do you support partial birth abortion, though?”

“I support women’s right to choose and their health and make decisions about their health.”

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Kerry Picket is a SiriusXM Patriot 125 host