In the third and final presidential debate, the candidates were finally asked about abortion.
With a seat on the Supreme Court waiting to be filled, the winner of the election will play a pretty huge role in determining the future of safe and legal abortion in the U.S. For months, abortion rights groups have been urging moderators to broach the subject. On Wednesday night, they got their wish.
The candidates’ basic positions are known: Hillary Clinton is in favor of reinforcing the legal protections afforded by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision while Donald Trump has vowed to appoint justices he believes will overturn that decision.
Harder to discern was whatever Trump was trying to say about late-term abortions.
What Trump described wasn’t an abortion at all. He described giving birth.
It should go without saying that no, you cannot get an abortion “in the ninth month on the final day.” Even if that were possible, it’s not legal, thanks to the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
People on social media were quick to jump on Trump’s claim about ripping babies from wombs.
I still remember the day, 8 and a half months into my pregancy when drs ripped my baby from my womb. Back then we just called it birth tho
Ally (@disconairobi) October 20, 2016
Actually, if you rip a baby out of the womb at 40 weeks, the baby is generally fine. It’s also probably a c-section
Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) October 20, 2016
While it’s one thing to poke fun at Trump’s statement, it’s frightening to think that he’s not alone in his misconceptions and spread of misinformation.
During a February Republican primary debate, Sen. Marco Rubio said, “Why doesnt the media ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that all abortions should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child?” (She doesn’t.)
Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina went with this graphic lie:
Last month, Sen. Ted Cruz claimed that Hillary Clinton “supports unlimited abortion on demand up until the moment of birth, including partial-birth abortion, with taxpayer funding.” (She doesn’t.)
The truth is that just 1.2% of abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy, many of which are wanted pregnancies that either involve a threat to the life of the mother or would be fatal for the fetus.
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding abortion, and misrepresenting what abortion actually is doesn’t help anyone.
Whatever your position on abortion whether you’re of the mindset that it should be legal in all instances, in some instances, or not at all can we at least agree that these arguments are best made when they are based in fact? There is no such thing as a nine-month abortion, nor are there videos showing brains being harvested.
Misrepresenting those who do need a late-term abortion (for whatever reason) doesn’t help advance political discourse either. And conflating birth by cesarean section with a partial-birth abortion makes you look a tiny bit on the foolish side.