After co-sponsoring an extreme abortion bill that allows abortion up until a child's birth, and amid massive backlash to "moderate" Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's defense of letting a born-alive infant die, Virginia Delegate Dawn Adams (Richmond) sent a letter to her constituents Wednesday night apologizing for supporting the bill and explaining that she "did not read" the bill before co-sponsoring it.
"I made a mistake, and all I know to do is to admit it, tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may," wrote the lawmaker in a newsletter reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "If you follow my newsletter or have written to me to ask about my votes, you know that I do my best to read and research every bill I vote on. But I did not read a bill I agreed to co-patron and that wasn’t smart or typical. I will work harder and be better for it."
Adams then vaguely referenced some of the controversy swirling around the bill she co-sponsored along with fellow Democrat Del. Kathy Tran (Fairfax) and tried to explain why she backed the radical bill without having read it.
"By now you have heard about the abortion bill, or seen the video. I vaguely remember signing on to this, and I did this in solidarity with my colleague and as a symbolic gesture for a woman’s right to choose," Adams wrote. "On principal alone, I do believe that women have full authority to decide what is best for themselves and their bodies. As a healthcare provider, I believe that all patients are entitled to the sanctity of the patient-provider relationship, and that medical practice should not be legislated by the General Assembly."
The delegate then apologized again, this time explaining why she believes the bill goes too far: "I am sorry that I did not exercise due diligence before this explosion of attention; had I done so, I would not have co-patroned, and here is why: I thought this bill sought to solely reverse the onerous additions to the code made in 2012 by HB462. While it did, it sought to do much more. Had I researched each line of removed language, I would have seen that, and known that there was more research to be done."
The bill made national news on Tuesday after video of Del. Tran defending its extremist positions on the floor of the Virginia State House went viral. In an exchange with Republican House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (Shenandoah), Tran admitted that the bill would allow a woman to abort her child even as she is "about to give birth" in order to protect her "mental health." Here's the now-famous exchange:
Gilbert: So how late in the third trimester would you be able to do that?”
Tran: You know, it's very unfortunate that our physicians witnesses were not able to attend today to speak specifically –
Gilbert: I'm talking about your bill. How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?
Tran: Or physical health.
Gilbert: Okay, okay. I'm talking about the mental health.
Tran: So I mean, through the third trimester. The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.
Gilbert: Okay, but to the end of the third trimester?
Tran: Yep, I don't think we have a limit in the bill.
Gilbert: So, where it's obvious that a woman is about to give birth, she has physical signs of 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.
Tran: Mr. Chairman, that would be a, you know, a decision that the doctor, the physician and the woman would make at that point.
Gilbert: I understand that, I'm asking if your bill allows that.
Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.
The Times-Dispatch notes that Adams stresses in her letter that, under current state law, what Tran admitted to Gilbert her bill would allow is considered "partial birth infanticide."
"This remains a crime and would not be something any sane licensed physician would perform," she assured her constituents. "The code is very specific and clear about what this means and it is different from an abortion, even late term."
National scrutiny of the extreme law was heightened on Wednesday when Democratic Gov. Northam defended allowing a born-alive child to die if the mother did not want to save the child.
"When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of the mother, with the consent of 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 which is non-viable," Gov. Northam said in an interview with WTOP’s "Ask The Governor" Wednesday. "So in this particular example, if the 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 this is what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother."