Hours after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s infanticide interview in January, a senior state official circulated talking points written by Planned Parenthood to calm the furor over his late-term abortion comments.
A 115-page cache of emails obtained by the conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch through open-records requests showed that Gena Berger, deputy secretary of Health and Human Resources, received “topline messages” from Missy Wesolowski, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.
Ms. Berger forwarded the “Topline messages for Northam” email dated Jan. 30 to other state government staffers.
The memo, written by Planned Parenthood’s Alexsis Rodgers, a former policy director for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, included bullet points such as “There is no such thing as abortion until birth” and “These are complicated medical decisions that families deserve to make in private without political interference.”
The Jan. 30 memo by Ms. Rodgers, who left Mr. Fairfax’s office to work for the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, included answers for “tricky” questions such as, “Can a woman get an abortion for mental health reasons?” and “Can a woman get an abortion if she’s in labor?”
“If possible, answer on background, not for attribution,” Ms. Rodgers said in the email.
In a Jan. 16 email exchange, Ms. Berger asked NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia communications manager Michelle Woods for assistance with talking points for Mr. Northam’s appearance at a NARAL press conference on pro-choice legislation.
The emails offer insight into the close relationship between Virginia pro-choice advocates and the governor’s office at a time when the legislature was considering a late-term abortion bill by Democratic state Del. Kathy Tran, which she acknowledged would have allowed abortion until birth.
Mr. Northam, a Democrat and pediatric neurologist, landed in the middle of the debate when he defended the bill in a Jan. 30 interview with WTOP Radio by appearing to endorse allowing a newborn who survived an abortion to be left to die.
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Mr. Northam said. “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.”
His office later denied that he was supporting infanticide, saying that he was referring to cases involving “a nonviable pregnancy or severe fetal abnormalities.”
Mr. Northam’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia was a top donor to Mr. Northam’s 2017 gubernatorial bid, sinking $3 million into his campaign.
Virginia Republicans, who control the state House of Delegates, ultimately killed the Tran bill, called the Repeal Act, by tabling the measure in subcommittee.
Judicial Watch obtained the emails through an open-records request asking for all communications related to “abortion, women’s reproductive health, and/or Virginia House Bill 2491,” as well as Ms. Tran and Planned Parenthood.