Donald Trump had some trouble talking about the logistics of abortion during Wednesday night’s presidential debate. Moderator Chris Wallace asked the candidates their views on “late-term, partial-birth abortions” and Trump jumped in with a horrifying description.
“Well, I think it’s terrible,” the GOP nominee said. “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 doubled down on his definition and took a swipe at Hillary Clinton. “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,” he said. “That’s not acceptable.”
Trump’s comments elicited eye-rolls and corrections from viewers.
Partial-birth abortions aren’t real. The term was coined by the National Right to Life Committee in 1995 to describe abortions taking place late in pregnancy and is not recognized by the American Medical Association.
Late-term abortions, those that take place after 21 weeks of pregnancy, are extremely rare. The procedure is used in instances where a woman’s health is at risk, or if the fetus develops problems later in pregnancy.
Just 1.3 percent of abortions take place after 21 weeks, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Ninety-one percent of abortions occur in the first 13 weeks.
Even so, President George W. Bush signed a controversial bill banning late-term abortions in 2003. The law was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007; exceptions are allowed when the procedure is necessary to preserve the life and health of the woman.
Nineteen states have their own laws further banning late-term abortions, and 16 of those states allow exceptions only when the woman’s life is in danger. Among them is Indiana, the home state of Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence.
The overall abortion rate has been falling nationally since 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, the abortion rate was 13.2 abortions per 1,000 women — an 18 percent decline from 2003.
Clinton called Trump’s comments “scare rhetoric” and described abortion as a woman’s “constitutional right” which the government has “no business” interfering with. She affirmed that she supports restrictions on late-term abortions, but not when the health and life of the woman is at stake.