Virginia delegate receives national attention for introducing bill to loosen restrictions on late-term abortions

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) A bill introduced in the Virginia General Assembly is getting national attention after being highlighted by abortion opponents on social media.

Kathy Tran, a Democrat who represents part of Fairfax County in the Virginia House of Delegates, recently introduced a bill that would loosen restrictions on abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy, and allow abortions during the second trimester to take place outside hospitals.

Current Virginia law only allows abortions during the third trimester after a doctor and two consulting physicians have determined that continuing the pregnancy would likely result in the mother's death, or that the pregnancy would "substantially and irremediably" impair the mother's mental or physical health.

A Virginia house subcommittee voted to table Tran's bill in a 5-3 vote Monday. Before that vote was taken, members of the subcommittee questioned Tran about her legislation in an exchange that was captured on video and later posted on social media.

In the video, which can be seen on a Twitter account for the Virginia House of Delegates GOP Caucus, Tran can be heard answering questions posed by Delegate Todd Gilbert, a Republican who represents part of the Shenandoah Valley.

"So how late in the third trimester would you be able to do that?" Gilbert asks Tran, referring to the point at which her legislation would allow an abortion in the third trimester.

Tran can be heard expressing her displeasure with the fact that physician witnesses were not able to attend the committee meeting before Gilbert is heard pressing Tran to answer his question.

"The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks," Tran said in response to Gilbert's question. "I don't think we have a limit in the bill."

Gilbert continued: “Where it’s obvious that a woman 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.”

“My bill would allow that, yes,” Tran answered.

In an interview with Washington-based WTOP radio Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam defended Tran and said reaction to her bill has been "blown out of proportion.” He did take issue with the portion of Tran's legislation that would eliminate the requirement in current law, mandating that more than one physician sign off on a third-trimester abortion.