by Mary Margaret Olohan
Establishment media news outlets insist that Republicans and President Donald Trump falsely emphasize Democratic support for infanticide, but the discussion of infanticide originated with the sitting governor of Virginia — and continues through 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s recent appearance on “The View.”
The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor discussed his abortion stances with “The View” co-host Meghan McCain Thursday morning. McCain reminded Buttigieg that he once suggested that unborn babies can be aborted up until they draw their first breath and offered him a chance to walk back this statement.
Instead of clarifying that he does not support infanticide, Buttigieg insisted that “it shouldn’t be up to a government official to draw the line. It should be up to the woman.”
And when McCain pressed him on this, specifically asking if he would be comfortable with a situation where “a woman wanted to invoke infanticide after a baby was born,” Buttigieg still refused to distance himself from infanticide.
“Think about the situation,” he said. “If this is a late-term situation, then by definition it’s one where a woman was expecting to carry the pregnancy to term.”
“Then she gets the most perhaps devastating news of her life,” he continued. “We’re talking about families that may have picked out a name, maybe assembling a crib and they learn something, excruciating, and are faced with this terrible choice.”
“I don’t know what to tell them morally about what they should do,” the Democratic presidential candidate finished. “I just know that I trust her and her decision medically or morally isn’t going to be any better because the government is commanding her to do it.”
Virginia Democrats First Suggested Infanticide
The 2020 presidential candidate’s remarks come after Democratic Virginia Del. Kathy Tran introduced a January 2019 bill that sought to repeal Virginia restrictions on late-term abortions. The bill would have allowed a doctor to perform an abortion even while the mother was giving birth.
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam thrust infanticide into the political spotlight when he expressed support for Tran’s bill by suggesting he supports infanticide.
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam said in a WTOP interview. “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 mother,” he said in January 2019.
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
Democratic 2020 Presidential Candidates Talk Infanticide
Most of the 2020 presidential candidates have shied away from addressing whether they would permit late-term abortions, and they are quick to label infanticide as a drummed up Republican narrative.
“This is completely false, and what a pathological liar and misogynist sounds like when he talks about abortion. Together, we must respect a woman’s right to control her own body,” 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted in April 2019 in reference to a clip of Trump highlighting Northam’s comments.
This is completely false, and what a pathological liar and misogynist sounds like when he talks about abortion. Together, we must respect a woman’s right to control her own body. https://t.co/KQZ9JHgPbE
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 28, 2019
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told The New York Times in November 2019, “Infanticide is illegal everywhere in America — and this narrative pushed by right-wing, anti-abortion politicians is intentionally deceptive and not rooted in reality.”
A spokeswoman for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Hilary Kinney, told the Times, in reference to a question about “the ‘infanticide’ narrative,” that “instead of using inaccurate and loaded terms to discuss what is an intensely personal medical decision, Andrew would focus on bringing facts and truth back to the conversation.”
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has not publicly commented on where she draws the line on abortion, other than to say during a Fox News town hall in May 2019 that “of course, there are limits there in the third trimester that are very important.”
“Overall, what we want to do is make sure women have the right to make their own decisions,” she added.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said in the 1990s that he wanted to ban all abortions “post-viability.” Since then, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has changed stances on abortion matters such as the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape or incest or if the mother’s life is in danger. Biden flip-flopped on this issue in June 2019 after pressure from fellow presidential candidates.
Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard explicitly said in September 2019 that she is against third trimester abortions except in cases where the mother’s health is at risk. The 2020 presidential candidate told “The Rubin Report” host Dave Rubin that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”
2020 Democrats Have Previously Voted For Bills Related To Infanticide
Many of the Democratic presidential candidates have voted for legislation that permits late-term abortions or voted against legislation that would protect babies born alive in botched abortions, reporting from the National Review highlights.
Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar all cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation intended to override state restrictions on third trimester (late-term) abortions. Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California also cosponsored this bill.
Every senator who was running for president in March 2019 — Harris, Warren, Booker, Klobuchar, Gillibrand and Sanders — voted against a bill in February 2019 that was intended to protect babies who survived botched abortions.
This Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would have prohibited “a health care practitioner from failing to exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.”
Media Outlets Downplay Or Ignore Infanticide
Throughout coverage of Buttigieg’s, Northam’s and Tran’s infanticide comments, as well as coverage of the born-alive bill, establishment media has either accused Republicans and Trump of concocting an “infanticide” narrative, as the Times writes, or failed to cover incidents referencing Democratic candidates and infanticide at all.
“A Republican-backed bill to protect ‘abortion survivors’ just failed. It still matters,” Vox headlined a Feb. 25, 2019 story.
The publication’s reporting on the born-alive bill referenced Northam’s infanticide comments and said that Northam made “confusing comments in support of the bill that some took as an endorsement of infanticide.”
Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2019
The Times followed up on a Trump tweet regarding infanticide with a February 2019 piece titled, “‘Executing Babies’: Here Are the Facts Behind Trump’s Misleading Abortion Tweet.” The piece offers input from an abortion doctor, Daniel Grossman, on why Trump misleads the public by calling the killing of a baby who survived abortion infanticide.
After Trump discussed Northam’s comments at a Wisconsin campaign rally in April 2019, CNN ran the headline “Trump offers incendiary falsehood on abortion at Wisconsin rally,” before criticizing the president for highlighting a “false claim that mothers and doctors have the option to ‘execute’ babies.”
CNN’s Brian Stelter also called Trump a “say anything” president in an April 28, 2019 clip, mocking the president for Trump’s discussion of infanticide, which Stelter called “illegal, immoral and incredibly rare.”
VICE ran a January story predicting that infanticide “Will Be Trump’s Go-To Abortion Lie in 2020,” drawing on comments from Elisabeth Smith, the chief counsel for state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. The publication reported that “the rhetoric of ‘infanticide’ and its ilk will crop up at rallies, debates, and campaign ads again this year.”
A New York Times survey of 2020 presidential candidates on abortion stances references an “‘infanticide’ narrative,” asking, “Opponents of abortion have had some success in framing the public debate on their terms, most recently through the ‘infanticide’ narrative. Beyond his or her policy agenda, should a president who supports abortion rights play a role in reframing the terms of the debate? If so, how?”
NewsBusters reported in January 2019 that Northam’s infanticide comments “went completely unreported during the morning and evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC.”
The Federalist noted in February 2019 that television media, including CNN, ABC News, NBC News and MSNBC, failed to cover the born-alive bill. Some outlets, such as The Hill and Politico, touched on the bill and called it “anti-abortion,” though the bill sought to protect babies who survived abortion.
And establishment media, including CNN, The Washington Post, the Times, HuffPost and Vox, didn’t cover Buttigieg’s Thursday infanticide comments on “The View.”
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Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.