Virginia Del. Kathy Tran said Thursday that she “misspoke” during a legislative hearing this week about a bill that would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions. The lawmaker’s comments sparked death threats, and intense backlash from Republican politicians – including President Trump.

“I wish that I was quicker on my feet and I wish that I was able to be more agile in that moment,” Tran, 41, a first-term Democrat from Fairfax County, said in an interview. “And I misspoke, and I really regret that.”

When a Republican lawmaker asked during the hearing whether the bill would allow for an abortion to occur when a woman is in labor and about to give birth, Tran said yes.

But on Thursday, Tran, a mother of four, corrected herself. “I should have said: ‘Clearly, no, because infanticide is not allowed in Virginia, and what would have happened in that moment would be a live birth.’ “

An edited video of Tran’s testimony was circulated and went viral on social media, leading some on Twitter to call Tran a “baby killer” or “a demonic creature.” Asked about the incident by the Daily Caller, Trump said he had seen the video and called Tran’s testimony “terrible.”

“Do you remember when I said Hillary Clinton was willing to rip the baby out of the womb?” Trump said. “That’s what it is. That’s what they’re doing.”


The uproar also targeted Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and a pediatric surgeon, who was asked about Tran’s remarks in a radio interview Wednesday and gave an answer that was later used by Republicans to suggest he favored killing live babies.

Northam told WTOP that late-term abortions are “done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s not viable. So in this particular example, if a mother’s 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 that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Northam’s spokeswoman said his words were being taken out of context, and the governor was not trying to say that discussions between a woman and her doctor after a baby is born would include options for termination.

Tran said she and her family have received death threats through telephone messages, email and social media, leading to extra police protection for her and her family, and difficult discussions with her elementary-school-aged children.

“It’s a very tough conversation to have with your little ones about how they need to be safe and watch out for themselves, and that it’s OK to ask for help,” said Tran, who lives in West Springfield. “I love my kids dearly. They are my world, and their safety is my number-one priority.”

Late-term abortions are already permitted under Virginia law when the mother’s life or health would be “substantially and irredeemably” harmed by continuing a pregnancy, as certified by three physicians.

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