President Donald Trump tried to convince supporters at a weekend rally that doctors are executing infants in the United States.
They are not.
"The baby is born," Trump told the crowd on Saturday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, according to CNN. "The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”
This is a fantasy: Doctors do not execute babies after they’re born. OB-GYN Kristyn Brandi, a board member from Physicians for Reproductive Health, called Trump’s comments “an outright lie” in a statement to VICE News.
“These remarks just show just like a lack of compassion and a misunderstanding of what real-life health care looks like,” Brandi added in an interview. “Often, these types of inflammatory reactions can spark violence, particularly at abortion providers like myself, and so it does worry me after these kinds of remarks about what’s going to happen.”
"These types of inflammatory reactions can spark violence, particularly at abortion providers like myself."
Trump started riffing about abortion as he spoke about Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, and his reported plan to veto a bill that would penalize doctors who don’t provide medical care to babies “born alive” after a failed abortion.
Abortion providers say that such a scenario almost never happens. In fact, 91% of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to a Planned Parenthood analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Only 1.4% of abortions take place during or after 21 weeks of pregnancy. Most pregnancies aren’t viable before 24 weeks, Brandi said.
Still, anti-abortion activists are determined to push through bills to protect “born-alive abortion survivors,” including at the federal level.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and a doctor, poured gasoline on the debate in January when he tried to support a state bill that would relax restrictions around abortions that occur later in a pregnancy. In an interview with radio station WTOP, Northam said that these procedures happen “where there may be severe deformities [or] a fetus that’s nonviable.”
He added, “the infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
A spokesperson for Northam later clarified that the governor was referring to the “tragic and extremely rare case in which a woman with a nonviable pregnancy or severe fetal abnormalities went into labor.” Sometimes, doctors and families may be forced to debate whether to use extreme methods to resuscitate an infant.
But the damage was done: Many interpreted Northam’s remarks as an endorsement of infanticide, including the president. During his Saturday rally, Trump referenced Northam, telling the crowd, “Until this crazy man in Virginia said it, nobody even thought of that, right?”
Northam’s remarks have turned into something of a fixation for Trump. In February, in El Paso, he told a crowd, “The governor stated that he would even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world and wrap the baby and make the baby comfortable and then talk to the mother and talk to the father and then execute the baby. Execute the baby!”
Once again, this is not true.
“We have seen politicians spread misinformation around pregnancy loss, obstetrics, and abortion care, on top of a rash of abortion bans across the country,” Brandi told VICE News in her statement. “None of this makes people healthier or safer, and in fact does the opposite.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks at a Make America Great Again rally Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)