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By Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was accused by prominent Republicans on Wednesday of supporting infanticide because of comments he made about late-term abortions in which the infant is severely deformed or unable to survive after birth.

The Democratic governor and pediatric neurologist was defending efforts to loosen abortion restrictions during a radio interview on WTOP-FM when described a hypothetical situation where a severely deformed newborn infant could be left to die.

Northam said that if a woman were to desire an abortion as she's going into labor, the baby would be "resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue" between doctors and the mother.

In an interview with the Daily Caller, President Donald Trump harshly criticized Northam and Democratic Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran's advocacy of late-term abortion.

"I'm surprised that he did that, I've met him a number of times," Trump said, noting that he saw a video of Tran discussing the bill earlier that morning, but hadn't yet heard Northam’s remarks.

"I thought it was terrible," Trump said of Tran's comments. "Do you remember when I said Hillary Clinton was willing to rip the baby out of the womb? That's what it is, that’s what they’re doing, it's terrible."

The president added, "This is going to lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it's never been lifted up before...I think this will very much lift up the issue because people have never thought of it in those terms."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also denounced the comments, tweeting that Northam is openly supporting legal infanticide.

Northam's office said Republicans were mischaracterizing his statement for political gain.

The governor's comments came amid a push by Virginia Democrats to loosen restrictions on late-term abortions that erupted into a fierce partisan clash as video of a legislative hearing went viral.

Democrats back legislation to reduce the number of doctors required to certify late-term abortions from three to one. It also would delete the words "substantially and irremediably" when referring to the threat that continuing a pregnancy poses for impairing a woman's health.

House Republicans tweeted a one-minute excerpt from the lengthy hearing, in which Democratic Del. Kathy Tran acknowledged that her bill would allow abortions up until moments before birth.

In reality, existing state law already provides for abortions throughout the third trimester, if three doctors certify a woman's health would otherwise be substantially and irremediably impaired.

In the tweet now viewed more than 1.8 million times, Republicans said her response shows Democrats have "extreme" abortion views.