Twenty minutes into the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Republican candidate argued that a Clinton presidency would lead to babies being “ripped” from their mothers’ bodies during late-term abortions.
The factually-incorrect statement was a response to host Chris Wallace’s question about late term abortions. Trump claimed that Clinton supports babies being torn from the womb at the last possible minute.
“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 told Wallace. “But it’s not okay with me, because based on what she is saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb, in the ninth month, on the final day. That’s not acceptable.”
Clinton responded that the government should not control women’s bodies, and explained that the decision to terminate a pregnancy at a later stage of a pregnancy is not one made lightly.
“This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make,” she said. “And I do not believe the government should be making it.”
The national debate about the amount of time women should be allowed to obtain abortions is one that’s largely driven by the concept of “partial birth abortion” — a term that is strictly political, as opposed to one based on medical practice. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court outlawed so-called “partial birth abortion” nearly a decade ago.
Trump’s response evokes violent, graphic images of babies dragged from the womb, kicking and screaming, which is a common tactic. The pro-life community has long used the term “partial birth” — and, more recently, “dismemberment” — to garner support.
In fact, that graphic “dismemberment” language typically refers to a standard abortion procedure performed after the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, which involves dilating a woman’s cervix to extract fetal tissue. The official term for this method is Dilatation and Evacuation — a procedure that’s widely accepted in the global health community, including among researchers with the World Health Organization (WHO).