RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) -- At the foot of a state capitol under fire, several hundred people gathered Thursday with signs in hand to speak out against abortion.
"I'm here today because I believe in life,” said Lynn Tucker, a lifetime resident of Pittsylvania County who drove to Richmond. “There should not be third trimester abortions."
The rally, called Commonwealth for Life, was planned after a bill introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran gained attention across Virginia.
The bill, HB 2491, would eliminate certain abortion requirements, specifically in the third trimester.
According to the bill summary it “eliminates the requirement that two other physicians certify that a third-trimester abortion is necessary to prevent the woman's death or impairment of her mental or physical health, as well as the need to find that any such impairment to the woman's health would be substantial and irremediable.”
Governor Ralph Northam appeared on WTOP radio Jan. 30 and was asked about the bill. He emphasized that third-trimester abortions happen only in cases where there are severe fetal abnormalities or a nonviable fetus.
"In this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam told the radio audience, referencing his career as a doctor. “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 comments drew outrage from a large base, specifically Republican leaders.
“We all believe that doctors should do everything possible to make a child not just comfortable, but live,” said Elliott Harding, a co-organizer of the Commonwealth for Life rally.
Representatives from NARAL Pro-choice Virginia say Northam's comments were taken out of context.
"Later abortion is extremely rare,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-choice VA. “And it is generally in cases where a woman's life or health is in jeopardy or there is something that's gone tragically wrong."
The crowd that was gathered Thursday spoke loudly against the bill, which has been tabled for the year, and Northam himself as controversy continues to build surrounding the racist image found on his 1984 yearbook page.
"It refocused the topics that started the whole thing,” said Harding. “I think the revelations as far as the governor's past and his actions in medical school were a direct consequence of his comments."