Governor's Comments on Virginia Abortion Bill Lead Conservatives to Claim He Supports Infanticide (He Doesn't)

A new proposal in Virginia that would loosen regulations on third-trimester abortion has been blasted by Fox News and Republicans who claim that the bill would allow women to kill their children after they have been born. The allegation is provably false, but continues to be spread by President Donald Trump's oldest son, elected officials and various media outlets.

Virginia currently allows third-term abortions when a mother's life is at severe risk and if three doctors sign off. The bill, proposed by Virginia House Democrats, would require only one doctor's approval and omit the words "substantially and irremediably" when referring to the health risk posed to the mother.

This week, Democratic delegate Kathy Tran said that the new rules would allow abortions up until the moments a woman gives birth. The bill was rejected.

On Wednesday, Republicans began circulating a shortened clip of Virginia governor Ralph Northam appearing to say that an infant could be killed after birth.

"If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen," said Northam in a radio interview. "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."

The clip, however, left out a preamble where Northam clarified that this would only be done with a severely deformed, nonviable fetus, an infant that was stillborn or would die imminently.

"No woman seeks a third trimester abortion, except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor's comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor," said Northam's spokesperson, Ofirah Yheskel, told The Washington Post. "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."

Still, Conservatives harped on the truncated clip. "This is insanity. Seems like advocating for Post Term Abortion AKA MURDER by any standard I'm aware of," wrote Donald Trump Jr.

"I never thought I would see the day America had government officials who openly support legal infanticide," wrote Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

About 65 percent of all abortions performed occur during the first eight weeks of gestation, and 91 percent are performed during the first 11 weeks. Only 1.4 percent of all legal abortions occur after 21 weeks gestation. Studies show that tough abortion laws lead to an increase in second and third-term abortions. There was a 27 percent increase in second-trimester abortions in Texas after the state closed clinics and increased wait times.