FACT CHECK: Trump Is Correct, Democrat Governor Spoke of Doctors Terminating ‘Newborn Baby’

During his rally in El Paso, TX, Donald Trump said Ralph Northam would allow executions of newborn babies.

President Donald Trump accurately paraphrased Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA), who recently hinted at legally-permitted termination of newborn babies in a radio interview defending a Virginia Democrat’s abortion legislation, during his Monday rally in El Paso, TX.

Trump said that Northam “would even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world… and then execute the baby,” even after wrapping and comforting the child:

Democrats are also pushing extreme late-term abortion. Allowing children to be ripped from their mother’s womb right up until the moment of birth. What’s that all about?

So in Virginia, the governor… stated that he would even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world and wrap the baby and make the baby comfortable, and then talk to the mother, and talk to the father, and then execute the baby. Execute the baby.

Last week, Trump similarly described Northam’s opposition to all temporal limitations on abortion as akin to enabling executions of babies during his State of the Union Address:

The Governor of Virginia… basically stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.

In an interview with WTOP Radio on January 30, Northam described his support for legalization of late-term abortion — even as a mother is “dilating,” per state delegate Kathy Tran — and took the concept further, discussing euthanizing newborn babies even after comforting and “resuscitating” them:

When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of, obviously, the mother, with the consent of the physicians — more than one physician, by the way — and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-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 mothers.

While Trump used the more explicit term “execute,” both Northam and Tran use the euphemism of a “discussion” or a “decision” between the mother and doctors to terminate the life of the child.

Vox’s Aaron Rupar framed Trump’s description of Northam’s position on abortion as a lie.

In an op-ed for Vox (labeled an “explainer”), Rupar takes a denial from the governor’s staff at face value and glosses over the radio interview with semantics:

[A] spokesperson for the governor told Vox that he had “absolutely not” been referring to infanticide.

“The governor’s comments focused on the tragic and extremely rare case in which a woman with a nonviable pregnancy or severe fetal abnormalities went into labor,” the spokesperson said.

Infanticide is illegal in Virginia. HB 2491, which has now been tabled, would not make it legal. No abortion rights groups support it. Northam’s comments may have done a disservice to supporters of loosening abortion restrictions in Virginia, but no one in the state is actually saying it should be legal to execute babies after they are born.

The governor’s denial, however, still allows for the possibility of terminating a baby after it is born — “extremely rare case” or no, it does not change the species of the child or the fact that its life is cut short by violence done to its body. Which is the more accurate description of that action: “execute” or “discuss”?

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.

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