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Video of Fairfax delegate supporting late-term abortion goes viral

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This article was updated Feb. 1. 

A video of Virginia State Del. Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) testifying that a bill she wrote would allow abortion up to birth has racked up millions of views and provoked outrage among politicians and pro-lifers nationwide. “I am, along with so many people of good will, distraught that this bill was introduced in the first place,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. “It could have paved the way for babies to suffer a violent and gruesome death moments before birth and could have been harmful to women.”

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, also responded. “This legislation shocks the conscience and is made more egregious by the Governor of Virginia suggesting the permissibility of denying care to infants born alive during the abortion. This senseless disrespect for new human life is horrifying,” he said. “We join the bishops of Virginia in urging all people of good will to stand up to protect unborn and born infants from legislation that would permit their gruesome deaths.”

“This moment shines a light on the extreme agenda of the abortion lobby,” said Amy McInerny, diocesan director of Respect Life.

In the video, Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) questions Tran, saying, “How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?”

“Through the third trimester,” she responds during the Jan. 28 subcommittee hearing at the General Assembly in Richmond.

He then asks, “Where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth, would that still be a point she could request an abortion?” 

“My bill would allow that,” said Tran. 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a Jan. 30 interview with WTOP, defended Tran and the bill. “So, if a mother is in labor, the infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and mother,” he said. “I think (this video of Tran) was really blown out of proportion.” 

Related: Bishop Burbidge responds to Governor Northam's extreme abortion comments

Though Tran’s bill and two other bills that would have rolled back restrictions on abortions were defeated, Virginia Society for Human Life President Olivia Gans Turner called the bills a shot across the bow. “The attack is definitely on. The pro-life majority is so slim, (pro-choicers) believe they’re in striking distance,” she said. “Governor Northam is waiting to sign a bill like the New York state (later-term abortion) bill.” 

Pro-life advocacy groups such as VSHL and the Virginia Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the Virginia bishops, also have fought this session against the resurrection of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

Related story: House members introduce measure to ban late-term abortions

In a Jan. 4 email, the VCC explained, “The ERA at first glance appears to be a neutral measure advocating for the equality of women which is a worthy endeavor; however, the ambiguity of the language disguises significant negative consequences and legal uncertainty particularly when it comes to protecting the unborn. Legal protections for women are already found in both the U.S. Constitution and state laws, including the Virginia Equal Pay Act.  Moreover, the ERA's ratification deadline passed over 30 years ago, rendering it legally moot.”

In a Jan. 25 legislative update, the VCC noted how the ERA is being used to attack pro-life laws in other states. “Last week, Planned Parenthood and other groups filed a lawsuit arguing that the Pennsylvania Constitution’s ERA language, which is consistent with the federal ERA, must be construed to require taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid,” they wrote. “The suit also requests that the court ‘declare that abortion is a fundamental right under the Pennsylvania Constitution.’ ”

Related story: New York bishops decry new abortion law

This session, the effort to revive the ERA is “mostly dead,” said McInerny. “The ERA is not needed, not wanted and is clearly deadly for unborn girls and boys,” said Turner. But McInerny believes the ERA and other pro-choice bills will be reintroduced next year when, after fall elections, pro-lifers are predicted to be in the minority in the General Assembly.  “(Opposition to the ERA) paints a target on pro-life legislators,” she said. “(Pro-choicers) see Virginia is at a tipping point.”

McInerny urges Catholics to reach out to their representatives. “Now is the moment for Catholics to be educated, to engage and to preach the Gospel of life to our elected official in Richmond,” she said. “If you don't raise your voice for the voiceless, who will?”

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