By Alex Pappas
Published January 30, 2019
The abortion debate erupted anew this week after a video surfaced showing the Democratic sponsor of a Virginia abortion proposal acknowledging it could allow women to terminate a pregnancy up until the moment before birth, for reasons including mental health.
“First New York, and now a proposed Virginia bill that would legalize abortion up to the moment of birth,” tweeted Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. “This is a sad commentary on the culture of death that continues to creep insidiously into the laws of our [country].”
Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran is the sponsor of The Repeal Act, which seeks to repeal restrictions on third-trimester abortions. The bill -- which was tabled in committee this week -- has the support of top Democrats in the state, including Gov. Ralph Northam.
The bill would remove a number of restrictions currently in place regarding late-term abortions, including doing away with the requirement that two other physicians certify a third-trimester abortion is necessary to prevent the woman's death or impairment of her mental or physical health. The third trimester lasts until 40 weeks.
Todd Gilbert, the Republican House majority leader, questioned Tran about the bill during a hearing Monday. He asked Tran if a woman who has physical signs she is about to give birth could request an abortion if a physician said it could impair her "mental health."
"Where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth. She has physical signs that she is about to give birth. Would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so-certified -- she’s dilating," he asked.
“Mr. Chairman, that would be ... a decision that the doctor, the physician and the woman would make at that point,” Tran replied.
“I understand that,” Gilbert replied. “I’m asking if your bill allows that.”
Tran replied: “My bill would allow that, yes.”
Virginia Republicans shared video of the exchange, posting, “Heartbreaking... This isn't in New York, this isn't in California, this happened just this week right here in Virginia.”
“Virginia House 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,” the Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus posted on Facebook.
In promoting the bill, Tran has said it "eliminates medically unnecessary and unduly burdensome requirements that make it difficult for women to access abortions," recognizing that "women have the constitutional right to make healthcare decisions about their own bodies."
The effort in Virginia follows New York passing a bill last week loosening the restrictions on abortion, as New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington also pass new laws expanding abortion access or move to strip old laws from the books that limit abortions.
The loosening of the laws comes as pro-choice activists fear the newly conservative Supreme Court will overturn the 1973 ruling that made abortions legal.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week directed the One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit in pink Tuesday to celebrate the passage of "Reproductive Health Act."
Under the Reproductive Health Act, non-doctors are now allowed to conduct abortions and the procedure could be done until the mother's due date if the woman's health is endangered or if the fetus is not viable. The previous law only allowed abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if a woman's life was at risk.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned, 16 states could take steps to ban abortion. Four have laws that would trigger bans, while 12 others have anti-abortion laws on the books that have been ruled unconstitutional by courts or have not been enforced due to the 1973 Supreme Court decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization.
Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.