Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claimed she had no idea about the national controversy surrounding a proposed bill in Virginia’s General Assembly that would allow late-term abortions.
In a video of an exchange between Delegates Kathy Tran (D-Va.) and Todd Gilbert (R-Va.), Tran admitted that her proposed bill would allow a mother to request an abortion when she is moments from giving birth.
Watch Tran’s statements:
Heartbreaking… This isn't in New York, this isn't in California, this happened just this week right here in Virginia. @VAHouseDems proposed legislation to provide abortions up to just seconds before that precious child takes their first breath. Watch for yourself. pic.twitter.com/AxgPVyI6kU
— VA House GOP (@vahousegop) January 29, 2019
The outrage from Tran’s comments started to build after the video was posted to social media, prompting questions for Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.) during an interview on WTOP.
Northam’s attempts to calm the backlash to Tran’s proposal backfired. He tried to explain the process of late-term abortions, but the added details only enraged more Americans.
VA gov on abortion this morning:
“If a mother is in labor…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 & mother" pic.twitter.com/cc15pVLjIQ
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) January 30, 2019
“It’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that is 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.”
The story made national headlines, including coverage in the Washington Post and the Associated Press. President Donald Trump even responded. Yet, when Pelosi was asked about the outrage against Gov. Northam, the speaker claimed she didn’t know what Northam had said.
Reporter: “Considering the comments from Governor Northam yesterday, how does that make it harder for pro-life Democrats in the party and does that cause problems?
Pelosi: “I’m sorry, I just don’t know what he said”
Pelosi quickly calls on another reporter to avoid follow up pic.twitter.com/4eonuoCbTG
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 31, 2019
While it is possible that Pelosi took a break from the news of the day and missed the story surrounding Northam’s comments, many believe she was dodging the question to avoid stepping on the toes of those who feel passionately about the issue.
Pelosi when I press her on the abortion comments by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Sidesteps question of how this impacts pro-life Democrats:
I just don’t know what he said yesterday
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 31, 2019
Unless Pelosi taped her eyes and ears shut since yesterday, she knows exactly what VA Gov. Northam said about abortion. Even she knows that stance dooms Democrats in 2020.
Watch her refuse to address it and then move on as fast as she can pic.twitter.com/RMWrBAjef1
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) January 31, 2019
One key reason Pelosi may have wanted to sit this debate out is that most Americans are opposed to full-term abortion. According to a poll conducted by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic nonprofit, three out of four Americans believe abortion should be limited to the first trimester, including 60 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of people who self-identify as pro-choice.
This is a problem for Pelosi if she wants to appease those who support the bill in Virginia or the new law in New York. By condemning or supporting Northam, she risks isolating one of the two sides.
In a statement about Virginia’s bill, March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said:
“Abortion up until birth is not only brutishly callous, it is severely out of touch with mainstream America. These radical pro-abortion lawmakers need to do their homework. Is it really okay to kill a seven-pound baby who is not yet born? For well over ten years polls have shown that the consensus of Americans, including pro-choice Americans, would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy. Democrats have forgone safe, legal and rare and have now staked their ground in abortion extremism.”
It isn’t clear how long Pelosi will be able to dodge questions about the position, but silence on the topic may lead people to believe, as Mancini does, that Democrats back the policy attempted in Virginia.