By Sasha Savitsky
Published January 31, 2019
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lit up social media Wednesday after he waded into the fight over a controversial abortion bill that one sponsor said could allow women to terminate a pregnancy up until the moment before birth -- with critics saying Northam indicated a child could be killed after birth.
Despite the controversial remarks making waves, analysis of Wednesday night's news coverage from NewsBusters found that CNN, MSNBC and the broadcast networks' nightly newscasts ignored Northam's shocking comments.
NewsBusters analyzed coverage from Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC from 7:00 p.m. to midnight ET on Wednesday and found that only Fox News included the story in their nightly coverage.
CNN and MSNBC "covered topics that included (but were not limited to) rehashing tweets from over 12 hours earlier in which the President knocked his intelligence chiefs, the Mueller team catching Russians using non-public information to try and discredit the probe, and attempting to bludgeon former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz from considering an independent presidential bid," NewsBusters reported Thursday.
Northam, whose office is now pushing back on those claims, appeared on WTOP to discuss The Repeal Act, which seeks to repeal restrictions on third-trimester abortions. Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran, one of the sponsors, sparked outrage from conservatives when she was asked at a hearing if a woman about to give birth and dilating could still request an abortion. The bill was tabled in committee this week.
“My bill would allow that, yes,” she said.
Northam, a former pediatric neurologist, was asked about those comments and said he couldn’t speak for Tran, but said that third-trimester abortions are done with “the consent of obviously the mother, with consent of the physician, multiple physicians by the way, and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities or there may be a fetus that’s not viable.”
“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, 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 intent of his comments was not clear. But some conservative commentators and lawmakers took his remarks to mean he was discussing the possibility of letting a newborn die -- even "infanticide."
Wednesday evening, Northam tweeted: "I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting."
Northam Communications Director Ofirah Yheskel said GOP critics were "trying to play politics with women's health" -- and sought to clarify:
"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. 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."
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.