Democratic presidential candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke on March 20 refused to endorse a law that would compel doctors to treat babies who survive attempted abortions.
O’Rourke revealed his stance during a meet-and-greet at Plymouth State College in Plymouth, New Hampshire. A student asked O’Rourke if he would support a law that requires doctors to provide the same level of care to babies who survive abortions as babies born during regular childbirth.
“I want to ask you about a recent bill that just went to the Senate about two weeks ago. And the bill was that if an abortion was performed on a viable fetus and the fetus survived the abortion, the doctor would then be compelled to give that living baby the same care as any other pregnancy,” the student said. “Would you support this bill that does not in any way limit abortion [and] simply seeks to keep babies alive that have been born alive?”
O’Rourke thanked the student for the question and responded.
“The way I would approach your question and this issue generally is to trust women to make their own decisions about their own bodies,” O’Rourke said, prompting cheers from the audience.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 20, 2019
Rather than address the specifics of the question, O’Rourke then digressed into a discussion of universal health care and the situation particular to his state when it comes to abortion clinics.
The student’s question referred specifically to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which failed to clear the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate in late February. The law would have required doctors to treat babies who survived abortions or face prison sentences.
All but one Democratic senator voted against the law in February. All of the Democratic senators currently running for president in 2020 voted against the measure, including Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
At a campaign event in Ohio on March 19, O’Rourke also appeared to endorse third-trimester abortions.
“Are you for third-trimester abortions? Are you going to protect the lives of third-trimester babies?” a woman from the audience asked.
O’Rourke replied: “The question is about abortion and reproductive rights. And, my answer to you is, that should be a decision the woman makes. I trust her.”
As the crowd broke out into loud cheers, O’Rourke quickly took another question.
Here’s Beto O’Rourke at a campaign event in Cleveland responding to a question about third-trimester abortions: “That should be a decision that the woman makes. I trust her.” pic.twitter.com/nBrlazlMob
— Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis) March 18, 2019
According to every Gallup poll since 1996, Americans have consistently opposed third-trimester abortions, with at least 80 percent saying it should be illegal. O’Rourke co-sponsored a bill in Congress in 2017 that would have lifted most state restrictions on abortion.
The national discussion about late-term abortion and infanticide flared up this year over comments by a Virginia lawmaker defending a bill that would allow abortion for any reason up to the moment a mother was about to give birth.
After the video of the lawmaker’s comments went viral, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam openly endorsed infanticide in comments to a radio station.
“If a mother is in labor … the infant would be delivered,” Northam said. “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 mother.”
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
O’Rourke launched his presidential campaign on March 14. He is one of 15 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination and a chance to run against President Donald Trump in 2020.