For the first time in Election 2016, both Presidential nominees went head to head on the topic of abortion during the third and final Presidential debate. Donald Trump’s statement on abortion was to describe a concept known as “partial birth abortions” in graphic detail. His claims were referred to as “scare rhetoric” by his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Vox reports today that Donald Trump’s statements on partial birth abortion are mischaracterizations of the procedure on three different levels. Vox says Donald Trump mischaracterized Hillary Clinton’s position, what abortion actually looks like in the United States, and how doctors address late-term patients.
It was a heated moment between the candidates and occurred in response when they were asked about their potential Supreme Court selections.
Donald Trump argued, “In the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother. Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me.”
This statement is not consistent with the statistics on partial birth abortion. Nor is it consistent with previous statements Donald Trump has made on partial birth abortion.
When he made the statement last night, his opponent Hillary Clinton referred to it as “scare rhetoric.”
As Share Blue reported, Hillary Clinton’s response to Donald Trump’s graphic claims was, “Well that is not what happens in these cases, and using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate. You should meet with some of the women that I’ve met with…this is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make, and I do not believe the government should be making it. The government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families, in accordance with their faith, with medical advice, and I will stand up for that right.”
Vox reports that Donald Trump’s claims on partial birth abortion at the last Presidential debate are “not the reality of abortion in America.” They say, those that seek abortions, often do so in the early stages of pregnancy. Statistics from the Health Research Fund indicate that most abortions occur before 20 weeks, and very few, less than 0.2 percent, happen after that.
There are virtually and literally no abortions being performed a day before a child is to be born at the nine-month stage, as Donald Trump asserted in the final debate. Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a doctor trained in partial birth abortions was watching the debate last night and tweeted that.
There is no such thing as a ninth month abortion - I'm a doctor who trained in late term abortions #debate2016— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) October 20, 2016
Vox described Donald Trump’s statements as “horrific imagery,” and Hillary Clinton called it “scare rhetoric.” Vox provides some statistics on abortion in America, saying, 91.4 percent of all abortions occur before the 13 week of pregnancy mark. They also say, using data from the federal government, that approximately 1.3 percent of abortions occur after the 21 week of pregnancy mark.
Vox also reports statistics that echo the words of Dr. Jennifer Gunter, who said, “None are happening on the final day of pregnancy.” As Vox reports, on the very rare occasion, a pregnancy will be induced at 36 weeks due to a condition with the infant known as anencephaly, which means that part of the baby’s brain is missing, and the baby has no chance of survival.
This is not abortion, reports Vox. This traumatizing condition is one where labor is induced to deliver a “baby that will not live.” Delivering a baby before it is due, via womb removal, is referred to as a Cesarean section, and the procedure is not an abortion. If the baby is intentionally harmed and killed after that, it is infanticide, which is illegal, and also, not an abortion.
Hillary Clinton has never supported infanticide. She does support partial birth abortion in extreme circumstances where the health of the child or the mother is at stake, as she stated in the debate last night. Donald Trump has also previously stated on the record that he supports partial birth abortion.
The first time he ran for the presidency, he said, “Well, I’m very very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. I just believe in choice…I am pro-choice in every respect.”
Donald Trump’s statements in the debate last night greatly differed from his earlier statements. He said he was going to appoint Supreme Court justices that would repeal Roe v. Wade and would appoint justices that were pro-life.
Slate reports that Hillary Clinton said she had devoted her life to women and their health, and said, “I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.”
She was specifically asked how far she would take that by Fox’s Chris Wallace, and Clinton explained, in detail, her position on partial birth abortions.
Slate reports that she said, “I have met with women who have, toward the end of their pregnancy, get worst news one can get. That their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term. Or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”
Slate says that Donald Trump might have confused the meaning of “partial birth abortions” with Cesarean sections. NPR reports that the term “partial birth abortion” is not even a medical term, and it is a political one that was coined by the National Right to Life Committee in 1995.
NPR also reports data from the abortion-rights research group known as the Alan Guttmacher Institute that shows that partial birth abortions rarely even happen, and they certainly do not happen at the nine-month stage.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute is not just pro-abortion rights; they are a policy organization “committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights globally.” They also support Planned Parenthood and do not support the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute said that 15,000 abortions occurred in the year 2000 in America that could be considered “partial birth abortions” but they occurred between pregnancy weeks 20 and 24. In that same year, 1.3 million abortions occurred in the United States. This means that only 0.2 percent of them were “partial birth abortions” and occurred before week 25 of pregnancy, well before week 40, or the 9-month claim made by Donald Trump.
The Health Research Fund has data that supports this as well. They say that abortion rates have actually fallen in the United States, and 1.06 million abortions occurred in 2011. The total number of partial birth abortions was again 0.02 percent of the 1.06 million.
The Health Research Fund also says that partial birth abortions actually happen so infrequently, meaning abortions that happen between 20 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, that the numbers are impossible to track.
In a 2015 report on infant mortality by the Center for Disease Control, it was reported that infant mortality is directly connected to gestational age and size of the baby. The more time a baby spends in the womb, the greater chance for survival, and also, the bigger a baby will be.
Babies born between the 23 week and 26 week of pregnancy have a very low birth weight, and a very low chance of survival with a “substantially increased risk of death” if they were to be born. In 1992, the United States Supreme Court said that at 23 weeks, a baby or fetus could be viable, and technically this is true.
But the Center for Disease Control says in their report that, a baby born at this stage has less than a 14 percent chance of survival. The unfortunate reality for many women is that in very rare cases, 0.2 percent of the time, a mother is faced with a very difficult decision regarding a pregnancy that has a low survival rate, no matter what.
This is what Hillary Clinton was referring to last night during the third and final presidential debate when she said she supports partial birth abortion. It is what Donald Trump supported the first time he ran for president. It is, according to Hillary Clinton, a very difficult decision that the United States government has no business making for a woman and her family.
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[Featured Image by Patrick Semansky/AP Images]