State of Play: Trump, Progressives and the U.S. Abortion Regime

The usual suspects are up in arms over President Trump’s assertion that some women and doctors are in the business of “executing” new born babies. Ilhan “It’s all about the Benjamins” Omar, in a Tweet, asked rhetorically if a deranged President Trump was  actually suggesting that parents and doctors were working together to commit infanticide. Not to be outdone, Bernie Sanders (Socialist, VT), chimed in with the usual sloganeering about the moral imperative of a woman controlling her own body. 

Perhaps it’s time for a dose of reality.  

To begin with, while referring to Trump as being deranged may be a tad hyperbolic, it may not be very far from the mark. Regardless there is very little reason to take anything he says all that seriously. Even on those rare occasions when he knows what he is talking about, he has little credibility since he just routinely makes things up. But Trump is not the issue here, as much as the abortion lobby would like it to be. The real issue is abortion up until the moment of birth—and after. 

Apparently abortion enthusiasts have taken exception to Trump’s reference to “executing” babies. So let’s take a look at what really happens in a late term abortion, a subject that the abortion lobby tries very hard to avoid. 

For the purpose of this discussion, late term abortions are defined as those that take place after 20 weeks gestation. For these pregnancies the most common method of abortion is known as dilation and evacuation (D&E). This procedure involves the crushing, dismemberment and removal of a fetal body from a woman’s uterus. In very late-term abortions intact dilation and evacuation may be used. In this procedure the fetus is removed from the uterus in breech position, the skull is then crushed and the dead fetus is delivered. (See this paper). In some cases the fetus is born alive in a “botched” abortion. In these cases, in some states, there is a move to allow the physician, in consultation with the mother, to refuse to treat the baby and allow it to die. 

It is important to realize that the abortion rights regime crafted under Roe (1973) and Casey (1992) essentially protects abortion rights up until the moment of birth. Some states are simply codifying Roe. Moreover it should be noted that, Omar notwithstanding, it has nothing to do with the parents of the child. The woman has legal rights, the man does not. He has no legal standing. 

But what about cases where the child is born alive? The Senate had the chance to vote on a bill introduced by Senator Ben Sass that would have required medical personnel to provide the same medical services to that child as they would have provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age. All the Republicans voted for it; all the Democrats except two (Jones, AL and Manchin, WV) voted against it. Here is the record of the vote.

It is often asserted that late term abortions are rare and that women obtain them because they are faced with serious medical problems. These are difficult hypotheses to test because there is a relative paucity of data. However, we can turn to a paper in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health published in conjunction with the (pro-abortion rights) Guttmacher Institute. In the article “Who Seeks Abortions at or After 20 Weeks?” Authors Diane Greene and Katrina Kimport addressed both questions.

First, they estimate that “a substantial number of abortions” take place after 20 weeks. They estimated a little over 1% of the 1.21 million abortions performed annually in the U.S. or about 15,000 take place after 20 weeks.  Second, is the crux of the article. They compared a sample of women who received abortions in the first trimester with a sample of women who received abortions after 20 weeks. Their data contradicted the popular narrative about women seeking late term abortions because of extreme circumstances. In their study they found that the women who got abortions in the first trimester were “remarkably similar” to the ones who got abortions after 20 weeks. I quote the study directly below:

“In contemporary discussions of later abortion, few empirical data exist about the women who seek these procedures, but speculation abounds, including the presumption that these women are intrinsically different from those seeking early abortions. Despite this common narrative, women in our study who obtained first‐trimester abortions and women who obtained abortions at or after 20 weeks’ gestation were remarkably similar. Demographically, the only significant differences between the two groups were in age (women aged 20–24 were more likely than women aged 25–34 to seek later abortion) and in employment status (employed women were less likely than unemployed women to have later abortions).”

To sum up: Late term abortions are probably not all that rare—somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 a year. In addition, the evidence seems to suggest that women getting late term abortions are not significantly different in their motivations from women obtaining abortions in the first trimester. Further, the abortion regime in the U.S., constructed by the Supreme Court, is defined as a woman’s liberty right under the 14th amendment. The right is effective until very late in the term, and sometimes up until birth. Moreover, the father has no say in the matter; he has no legal standing. 

Finally, let’s not forget that while Trump stated the anti-abortion case in a most inflammatory and not exactly accurate manner, he was a supporter of late term abortions until the moment he decided to seek the Republican nomination for President. Having said that let us also not forget that the U.S. abortion rights regime has created a legal right to take innocent human life for any reason or no reason at all, very late into the term when the child is without doubt viable outside the womb. 

Don’t be fooled by the Progressive attempt to change the subject to Trump’s overblown rhetoric and away from the brutality of the U.S. abortion regime. Perhaps instead it’s worth thinking about why it is that Sanders, Omar and the rest of the Progressives are so intent on protecting the abortion license at the expense of all those innocent lives crushed out by abortionists plying their trade. 

JFB

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health:Who Seeks Abortion After 20 Weeks?

The Guttmacher Institute

The Lozier Institute: The Reality of Late Term Abortion

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Joe Benning