Virginia bill tabled that would reduce number of doctors needed for third-trimester abortions

RICHMOND, Va. -- A controversial abortion bill tabled by the General Assembly would have eliminated some of the legally mandated requirements for doctors performing third-trimester abortions in Virginia.

Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox stepped off the dais Wednesday afternoon to deliver a floor speech -- something he said he does not think has ever been done by speaker.

Cox said he said was compelled to act by this legislation in question and an abortion law that passed recently in New York.

“I will never stop fighting for the promise of life as long as I hold a gavel, as long as I can speak in this microphone,” Cox said.

At issue for Cox and other Republicans was a bill from Democratic Delegate Kathy Tran.

The bill was tabled by a House subcommittee on Monday, but picked up traction Tuesday when an exchange between Tran and the republican chair went viral.

Republican Del. Todd Gilbert described the exchange as “a moment of unbridled honesty about their agenda and their legislation and what it actually does.”

However, Democrats, like Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, characterized the exchange as “deliberately misleading” and “part of an orchestrated ambush.”

In the video the chair asks Del. Tran if her bill would allow a woman who is in labor to get an abortion if a doctor certifies the pregnancy would impair her mental health.  Tran replied that it would.

“I was caught off guard and probably wasn't as artful in the moment as I could have been,” was how Tran described the exchange Wednesday.

Tran said her bill makes changes to third trimester abortions, which are already allowed under current law, if the procedure is needed to prevent the mother's death or substantial and irreparable damage to her mental or physical health. However, in order to do so, state law mandates three doctors to certify that.

Tran's legislation, which has been introduced in past years, would require only one doctor’s consent and remove the need to prove the damage is "substantial or irreparable."

“The bill is intended to remove unnecessary medical and unduly burdensome barriers that women have to accessing healthcare,” Tran said.

Tran does not believe the bill will be taken up again this session.

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