Analysis: Trump Copied Gov. Northam’s Abortion Wording


12 media outlets are slamming President Trump’s most recent remarks on abortion and infanticide as “dangerous lies.” But his comments aren’t so different from those of Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam – who the media vigorously defend.

On April 27, President Trump criticized Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers for promising to veto pro-life legislation that offers protections for babies born alive after surviving failed abortion attempts.

Democrats “are aggressively pushing extreme late-term abortion, allowing children to be ripped from their mother’s womb right up until the moment of birth,” Trump warned at a Wisconsin rally. “Your Democrat governor here in Wisconsin shockingly stated that he will veto legislation that protects Wisconsin babies born alive.”

Earlier that week, Governor Evers called the born-alive bill needless because of “existing protections,” and warned that it “could send doctors to prison for life if they fail to give medical care to babies born alive,” the Associated Press reported on April 23.

But pro-life leaders, such as Wisconsin Right to Life executive director Heather Weininger, stressed that this bill, AB 179, is “not the same” as past ones.

The bill “will help health care providers understand the degree of care they must offer,” she stated in a press statement on April 23. The new legislation will also “give guidance” for reporting violations to the “appropriate law enforcement agency.”

The media focused on President Trump’s description of such a situation.

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby,” the president said.

In response, outlets raced to condemn the president for his “dangerous abortion lies” and “falsehoods.” At least twelve headlines accused Trump:

CNN: “Trump offers incendiary falsehood on abortion at Wisconsin rally”

The Cut: “Trump’s Lies About Abortion Keep Getting More Disturbing”

Daily Beast: “‘Bizarre, Dangerous, and Insulting’: Baby Nurses Fed Up With Trump’s Bogus Abortion Rants”

GQ: “Why Trump Can Lie to His Base About the Nature of Abortion”

The Guardian: “Lies, damned lies and Donald Trump: the pick of the president’s untruths”

HuffPost: “Trump Pushes Dangerous Abortion Lies At Wisconsin Rally”

Jezebel: “Donald Trump Invokes the ‘Murderous Mother’ of Anti-Abortion Myths”

Mother Jones: “Trump Has a New Go-To Lie About Abortion, and It’s Horrific”

MSNBC: “Trump’s lies about abortion take an alarming and incendiary turn”

New York Times: “Trump Repeats a False Claim That Doctors ‘Execute’ Newborns”

Refinery29: “Trump Told Another Lie About Abortion At His Wisconsin Rally Last Night”

Vice: “Trump’s lies about doctors executing babies are outrageous and dangerous”

But Trump’s comments didn’t come out of thin air. He pointed to Governor Northam, a trained pediatric neurologist, as his inspiration.

In January, the Virginia politician shocked Americans after suggesting leaving babies to die after birth in an interview. In his own words:

It’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. If a mother is 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.

In Wisconsin, Trump said of Northam, “Until this crazy man in Virginia said it, nobody even thought of that.”

Trump’s description and Northam’s description were close to identical – but the media only defended one of them.

Here are Trump’s and Northam’s words, side by side:

Northam: “The infant would be delivered.”

Trump: “The baby is born.”

Northam: “The infant would be kept comfortable.”

Trump: “They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully.”

Northam: “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.”

Trump: “And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

The majority of the outlets criticizing Trump didn’t even cite Northam’s full comments. And when they did, they defended him.

For example, Vice provided this excuse for the governor: “A spokesperson for Northam later clarified that the governor was referring to the ‘tragic and extremely rare case in which a woman with a nonviable pregnancy or severe fetal abnormalities went into labor.’”

Even so, according to his own words, Northam was talking about a baby – a born baby – for whom resuscitation is a possibility.

“Executing” a baby isn’t the exact same thing as leaving a baby to die when it has a chance at surviving.

But the similarity is unmistakable: both actions are barbaric.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


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Katie Yoder serves as the associate culture editor at NewsBusters and is a columnist for She is also the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow for the Media Research Center’s culture division. Follow her on Twitter @k_yoder.

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