Donald Trump started out his remarks about Roe v. Wade at the third presidential debate by refusing to say whether or not he wanted to see the landmark abortion ruling, which made the procedure legal in all 50 states, overturned.
Which is maybe because he seems to have no idea what an abortion actually is, or why it’s a medically necessary procedure, or how women are human. Just a guess.
In response to a follow up question from moderator Chris Wallace about late-term abortion, Hillary Clinton explained she opposed a 2003 ban on the procedure—which was given the non-medical term “partial birth” abortion by anti-abortion activists in the hopes that lawmakers and people like, say, Chris Wallace would use it—because it would take a medical decision out of the hands of women and doctors and failed to account for the “life and health of the mother.”
“The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make,” Clinton said. “I don’t think the government should be stepping in with those most personal decisions.”
Then Trump said this:
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. Now you can say that that’s OK, and Hillary can say that’s OK, but it’s not OK with me. Because based on what she’s 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—and that’s not acceptable.
Trump is not describing an abortion procedure. (Although he may be grotesquely describing the mechanics of a C-section.) But late-term abortion, which account for around 1% of all abortions performed in the United States, is a medical procedure, one that’s permitted to save a woman’s life or health in 24 states.
And real women decide to have them for all kinds of personal, often difficult reasons.
“I will live my whole life never wanting to hear anything like it ever again,” a woman named Courtney Wallace told the Guardian in 2014. She had a late-term abortion after her doctor discovered her fetus had a fatal neurological condition. “The doctor told us, ‘He is missing the entire top of his head. Without a brain, he will struggle to breathe, so, when they cut the umbilical cord, he will die.’”
“It’s a topic that you can’t really speak on until you are faced with it,” she continued. “It was a heartbreaking scenario. I’m lucky that I have surrounded myself by good people and, honestly, I didn’t give a damn what others felt. I was not going to make it worse by being shamed. I was honest and open about it. Within my own social circle, I thought this story needed to be not hidden.”