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Judicial Watch: Documents Show Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Took Abortion Talking Points Directly from Planned Parenthood

Updated 4:05 pm 10/30/19

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch today released 115 pages of documents from the Office of the Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam that show he received abortion talking points directly from Planned Parenthood.

These documents were obtained as a result of two separate Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The February 1, 2019, request was seeking all records of communications of Northam or members of his staff related to “abortion, women’s reproductive health, and/or Virginia House Bill 2491.” Judicial Watch likewise requested communications records between Northam and his staff with Virginia State Representative Kathy Tran or her staff. Also requested were communications records between Northam, his staff and employees and representatives of Planned Parenthood and/or Emily’s List.

The February 4, 2019, request was seeking records of communications, of Northam or members of his staff related to abortion, blackface, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and/or the possible resignation of Governor Northam.

The February 1, 2019, FOIA documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that on January 30, 2019, Alexsis Rodgers, a former policy director in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, used a ppav.org email account.

Northam told WTOP radio: “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 desires. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Several hours after Northam gave the viral interview on WTOP, Rodgers sent talking points from her ppav.org email account titled “Topline messages for Northam” to PPAV representative Missy Wesolowski, who then forwarded them to the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services, Gena Berger.

Rodgers’ suggested general talking points included:

“There is no such thing as an abortion up until birth.”

“Making a decision about whether to continue a pregnancy is a complex and personal decision. Politicians have no place in this process.”

“As a physician, I know how important it is to trust my patients and for my patients to trust me.”

“These are complicated medical decisions that families deserve to make in private without political interference.”

In a section of the talking points titled “Tricky Q&A” Rodgers advises “If possible, answer on background, not for attribution.” She adds that, “If a woman is in labor, she couldn’t and wouldn’t have an abortion,” and that politicians and pro-life groups were characterizing “safe, legal abortion” in a “completely inaccurate and misleading” way.

The February 4, 2019, FOIA documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that on January 17, 2019, Michelle Woods, communications manager of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, forwarded to Northam’s Press Secretary Alena Yarmosky, a press release announcing the appearance of Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. At this appearance they announced a “Statement of Intent” to promote two bills to ensure abortion rights in Virginia. Woods tells Yarmosky: “I hope you win the day [smiley emoji]”

On January 16, 2019, Berger asked Woods to provide “talking points” for Northam to use for his upcoming appearance with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in order to promote abortion bills in the legislature.

Woods replies offering to, “send over some talking points in case they’re helpful.”

Berger replies: “Thanks, Michelle. I am working on the talking points so it would be very helpful if you could send those and the briefing form to me and I will get the final to scheduling this afternoon.”

On January. 20, 2019, LaTonya Joyner-Gregory, a policy analyst of Planned Parenthood, gives Berger suggested amendments to two “Maternal Mortality Bills” put forth in the Virginia legislature (HB 2581 and HB 2546). These amendments would require the state to investigate all pregnancy-related deaths.

One of Joyner-Gregory’s suggestions would require the investigators to consider “socioeconomic status and/or insurance status” of the deceased women as factors, as well as opioid/drug abuse issues. Joyner-Gregory also recommended that medical providers like “doulas” and “home health workers” be included on the investigative team “for breadth of experience and perspective, and adding language requiring that the team members receive training on “implicit bias, structural racism, and/or cultural sensitivity.”

Berger responds (but unclear to whom), “Let’s chat today.” Northam’s policy advisor Melissa Peeler responds: “Sounds good!”

A federal HHS Family Planning Services Grant award offering announcement was also included in the release. This announcement indicated that the Federal Government would offer Virginia contractors $4.6 million to provide family planning services under a Title X contract.

One of the “Legislative Mandates” is that all grant awardees “have project-wide monitoring and state-specific policies and procedures related to reporting of … intimate partner violence.”

On April 26, 2019, Lt. Gov. Fairfax’s policy director resigned after two women reportedly credibly accused him of sexual assault.

On January 31, 2019, Northam stated: “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 desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and mother.”

“These new emails show that Planned Parenthood was running the press operations of the Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam after he endorsed infanticide during a radio interview,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

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