RICHMOND, Va. — Video footage of a member of the Virginia House of Delegates admitting that an abortion bill she had proposed would allow an unborn baby to be killed up until birth should the pregnancy “impair the mental health of the woman” has generated outrage nationwide. Republicans in a state subcommittee stopped the bill from proceeding.
Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, was questioned before the Courts of Justice subcommittee on Monday about House Bill 2491, also known as The Repeal Act.
A summary of the bill outlines that it would repeal various existing restrictions and regulations surrounding second and third trimester abortions, including that it would allow for a single doctor to attest that the abortion is necessary for the woman’s mental or physical health, or to save her life.
“The bill eliminates the requirement that two other physicians certify that a third trimester abortion is necessary to prevent the woman’s death or impairment of her mental or physical health, as well as the need to find that any such impairment to the woman’s health would be substantial and irremediable,” it reads.
House Majority Leader and Subcommittee Chairman Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, asked Tran during Monday’s hearing how far the bill goes in terms of allowing for abortion when the mother’s mental health is deemed to be an issue.
“How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?” Gilbert asked.
“Or physical health,” Tran inserted.
“Okay. I’m talking about the mental health,” Gilbert noted.
“So, I mean, through the third trimester,” Tran replied. “The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.”
Gilbert then asked if that includes the end of the third trimester.
“Yep,” Tran confirmed. “I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.”
Gilbert, continuing to seek clarification, presented the scenario of a woman who is in labor.
“Where it’s obvious 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?” he inquired. “She’s dilating.”
Tran, appearing uncomfortable, responded that the matter would be up to the attending physician. Gilbert interjected that he was rather wondering if Tran’s bill would allow for such a situation.
“My bill would allow that, yes,” she admitted.
Republicans consequently killed the bill in committee, and family groups spoke out against the proposal as well.
According to the outlet The Republican Standard, Virginia law currently allows for third trimester abortions, but with the agreement of three doctors that, absent an abortion, the pregnancy will “substantially and irremediably impair the mental or physical health of the woman.” The abortion must also be performed in a hospital.
In addition to removing the mandate that there be a consensus among three physicians, Tran’s bill would have also eliminated the requirement that the abortion be performed in a hospital.
“The most egregious part of this bill is that it would vastly widen the narrow rationale where our law allows a third trimester abortion, by no longer requiring that a woman’s physical or mental health be ‘substantially and irremediably impaired’ by the concurrence of three doctors,” Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation told The Republican Standard.
“This bill creates abortion, virtually on demand, up until the point of birth,” she opined.
The situation follows recent uproar over a bill that was signed into law last week in New York State, which likewise allows for abortions past the 24-week mark and up until birth to “protect” the health or life of the mother.
The language reflects the 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, in which Justice Harry Blackmun, nominated to the bench by Republican president Richard Nixon, wrote, “If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability [written in the ruling to be as early as 24 weeks], it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
The 1973 Supreme Court case of Doe v. Bolton elaborated on the “health” aspect, determining that “medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”
A number of OB/GYNs and nurses nationwide have spoken out on such concepts, stating that an abortion is never necessary for the health or life or the mother as an emergency C-section will be performed instead in an effort to save both mother and child.