Trump to sign order on premature babies, in appeal to right

Jennifer Jacobs and Alexander Ruoff

President Donald Trump plans to announce to a Catholic prayer breakfast on Wednesday that he’s signing an executive order purporting to protect babies born premature, including those that survive abortions, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Trump has occasionally seized on remarks in January by the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, to falsely accuse Democrats of promoting abortions even after children are born. His new order comes as he struggles to make up ground against his re-election challenger, Joe Biden, who leads Trump in averages of national polls and in many battleground states.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Moon Township, Pa.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the order would do. One of the people said it would point out various existing laws that could be used to strengthen protections for premature babies. Trump plans to announce the order in a videotaped address to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, the people said.

Northam, a doctor, said in a radio interview in January, in defense of Democratic state legislation on late-term abortions, that in some cases – babies in which “there may be severe deformities” or “a fetus that’s nonviable” – hospitals may opt not to provide life-saving care.

“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 desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” he told Washington radio station WTOP.

Trump later said that Northam had “stated that he would allow babies to be executed after birth.”