Donald Trump made a grossly inaccurate claim about abortion during Wednesday’s third and final presidential debate, saying that according to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a doctor can “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”
The claim came during a heated exchange on abortion and the Supreme Court.
After debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Clinton, the Democratic nominee, why she voted against a ban on late-term abortions, she pointed to Roe v. Wade as her rationale.
It “clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account,” she said.
Clinton went on to say that, in many cases, late-term abortions are obtained when a woman is told her health will be endangered if she carries to term, or when she finds out “something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy.” The Democratic nominee said that she will support regulations on late-term abortions if they are made “with the life and the health of the mother taken into account.”
When Wallace asked Trump to respond, the Republican nominee called Clinton’s view on the issue “terrible.”
“If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” he said.
Trump’s claim, however, is demonstrably false. 43 states have laws prohibiting abortions after the point of fetal viability, which is when a foetus would be able to survive on its own — around the sixth or seventh month — according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organisation on reproductive health.
Only 1.2 per cent of abortions happen after the 21st week of pregnancy and one-third of abortions happen at six weeks past conception or earlier, according to data from Guttmacher.
There is also no such thing as a ninth-month abortion, as Jennifer Gunter, a doctor trained in providing late-term abortions, tweeted.
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
In rare cases, doctors induce labour 36 weeks into a pregnancy — weeks before a baby is full-term — because of anencephaly, Gunter added. Anencephaly is a serious birth defect that results in a baby being born “without parts of the brain and skull,” according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
That induction, however, is not an abortion because the baby is delivered but is not capable of surviving.
Trump is not the first to claim that Clinton’s position on late-term abortions implies a belief that abortion should be unregulated throughout the duration of the pregnancy.
Former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Clinton “believes that all abortions should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child,” a claim Politifact rated as false.
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