Author:Slade, Stephanie
Position:LAW - Ralph Northam

ON FEBRUARY 2, Gov. Ralph Northam (D--Va.) held a now-infamous press conference at which he admitted to having once "darkened" his face with shoe polish while dressing up as Michael Jackson. For his sins, he faced calls to resign from a range of erstwhile allies, including Hillary Clinton, Planned Parenthood, and the Virginia state House Democratic Caucus. (He has so far declined.)

Two days earlier, many of the same state House Democrats had stood proudly behind Northam, vigorously applauding, during another press conference at which he defended himself. The difference was that the first controversy was over his views on abortion--specifically his support for a bill to legalize the procedure in Virginia through the end of the third trimester.

For many people, that policy is morally indistinguishable from infanticide: If it's OK to kill a fetus 12 hours before birth, why is it wrong to kill a baby five minutes after? Northam did no favors to his cause when, during a late January radio interview, he answered a question about whether the proposed legislation would allow a woman already in labor to terminate her pregnancy. He said that in such a case "the infant would be delivered... and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."

Was the governor of Virginia really suggesting that the abortion procedure could be completed after birth? Probably not. A fuller transcript shows that Northam, a medical doctor, was referring specifically to cases in which "there...

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