Donald Trump bungled a major line in his anti-abortion speech in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, saying that it is “wrong” that state laws allow babies to be “born in the ninth month.”
Trump made the flub in his address during the 45th annual March for Life rally, which marks the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The address was broadcast on giant screens at the National Mall, where marchers were gathered.
“Right now, in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month,” Trump said. “It is wrong. It has to change.”
He intended to say that it’s wrong for babies to be “torn” from their mothers’ wombs in the ninth month, an apparent reference to late-term abortions. Trump called on legislators to outlaw late-term abortions in his address.
While some listening to the speech may have been perplexed by the president’s comment, Twitter was fast off the mark in attacking the president’s goof. Wags at Quartz, highlighting several of Trump’s misstatements about abortion laws in his address, admitted that, yes, it’s true that all states, indeed all countries, allow babies to be born at nine months.
During a presidential campaign debate with his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump claimed that doctors can “rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.”
In fact, that is “not happening in the United States,” Dr. Aaron Caughey, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, told The New York Times after the debate. “It is, of course, such an absurd thing to say.”
Only 1.3 percent of abortions are performed at or after 21 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health research organization that supports abortion rights. An estimated 80 percent of those procedures are for birth defects, according to Huffpost contributor Dr. Jennifer Gunther, an obstetrician trained in later term (16 to 18 week) abortions. Others may be done to save the life of the mother.
“After 24 weeks, birth defects that lead to abortion are very severe and typically considered incompatible with life,” Gunther noted.
And fetuses are not “ripped out” of wombs. Even if there is a crisis in the last month of pregnancy — such as a car accident — labor would be induced or an emergency cesarean section would be performed, Caughey told the Times.
In his address to the anti-abortion marchers, Trump said that “Roe v. Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world,” even though America’s laws are similar to those in several countries. “We will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.”
In a 1999 interview with NBC, Trump described himself as “very pro-choice.” He added: “I hate the concept of abortion ... But you still — I just believe in choice.”