During one of the 2016 presidential debates, Donald Trump falsely claimed that due to current abortion laws, women could waltz into a clinic one day before their due date and demand an abortion and get one. I remember being stunned that this wasn’t widely addressed by anyone in the subsequent days, though to be fair, Trump got so much wrong during those debates, it was hard to cover it all. However, this kind of alarmist rhetoric was and is dangerous to the battle to protect women’s reproductive rights and an assault on Roe v Wade.
Trump was back at it again during his State of the Union Address. He condemned New York’s recently passed Reproductive Health Act which decriminalized abortions past 24 weeks. Trump demanded that Congress ban “late term abortions” and accused New York lawmakers of cheering a law that would allow “a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” Make no mistake, this is a lie and he knows it. He also doesn’t care that it’s a lie, because the graphic imagery is par for the course for republicans. Trump would have you believe that the laws allow women to simply change their mind at the last minute and that it happens with alarming frequency. This is another lie.
Gov Andrew Cuomo disputed Trump’s assertions in an op-ed, saying “Contrary to what its detractors claim, the Reproductive Health Act does not allow abortions minutes before birth, nor does it allow third-trimester abortions ‘for any reason… the option is available for exactly the reason stated in Roe and successor cases: to protect the life or health of the woman.”
Trump and other republicans refer to “late-term abortions” to describe pregnancies terminated past 21-weeks. However, late-term (medically speaking) refers to pregnancies that progress past the due date (41-42 weeks). Regardless, it’s important to note that according to the most recent data (2015) from the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1.3 percent of abortions occur in or after the 21st and less than one percent of all terminations come after the 24 week mark. These procedures are usually performed because of health risks to the mother or because of severe malformation in the fetus. Tragically, they are often performed because the fetus has died in-utero and will never be viable.
Donald Trump’s intentions are clear: he seeks to further influence the courts (both judicial and that of public opinion) against protecting a woman’s right to choose. Abortion is a personal decision for every woman, and especially in what are usually devastating situations, must be left up to the woman and her doctor. To use misleading phrases, false narratives and bold faced lies to threaten this right ranks at the top of Trump’s despicable behaviors.
Wendy Luxenburg writes for Palmer Report