How do you “beat” abortion—how do you ultimately convince enough people it is an indefensible practice that should not, in any civilized society, be legal? You do so by exposing it to the light of day, in the same way that was done with, say, slavery, or civil rights abuses. The great liberation movements of the past knew how to use effective exposure to get their messages across.
The pro-life movement need not necessarily use photographs to transmit its worldview (although I think there are times when it’s appropriate). Rather, the most salient and effective tools in the pro-life arsenal are the cold, hard facts about abortion: it is a medical procedure that kills innocent human beings.
No serious person can deny this in any meaningful way. The only response that the pro-abortion movement can muster is to lapse into confused quack philosophy regarding the matter of “personhood.” For all practical legal purposes, pro-choicers generally put forth the same legal argument as did the majority in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Quite a legacy.
Donald Trump Gave Us a Good Example
Then there is the good rhetorical tool of simple, forceful language. Proving that even he can get something right every now and then, Donald Trump gave a great example of this at the final presidential debate this week, criticizing Hillary Clinton’s position on infanticide: “Well, I think it’s terrible. 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.”
This is indeed the case: under Clinton’s proposed abortion regime, it would be entirely legal to “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” She has personally defended partial-birth abortion in the past.
As Hillary put it when pressed on late-term abortions, “there can be restrictions in the very end of the third trimester,” but this is clearly a cowardly and meaningless evasion: Clinton carefully avoiding saying there should be restrictions at the very end of the third trimester. She also asserted the restrictions have to take into account “the life and health of the mother,” but as abortion activist Ron Fitzsimmons demonstrated years ago, late-term abortions were performed with great frequency on “healthy women bearing healthy fetuses.”
This is how abortion “exceptions” generally work. The “health of the mother” is broadened to cover just about every possible consideration, and it becomes an effectively toothless qualifier. Hillary knows this.
Panicked and blindsided by Trump’s accurate description of the brutal procedure that she fully supports, Hillary countered: “Well, that is not what happens in these cases. And using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate.” It’s not scare rhetoric, though—it’s true. But pro-abortionists hate the truth. They despise it, they cannot tolerate the thought of it, and they attempt to bury it at every possible opportunity. Wouldn’t you? Who would want to be caught defending such barbarity?
Let’s Avoid the Truth Because We Hate It
Fascinating to watch in the wake of this debate has been the reaction from “fact-checkers,” the class of pundits and journalists who, in spite of their titles, are not actually all that interested in “facts” and are generally committed to “checking” things only insofar as the facts can be obscured. Take, for instance, Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post:
THE FACT CHECKER | Trump suggested that abortions can take place just two or three days before birth. That doesn’t really happen.
Most abortions take place early in the pregnancy. One-third take place at six weeks of pregnancy or earlier; 89 percent occur in the first 12 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Only 1.2 percent of abortions—about 12,000 a year– take place after 21 weeks. (The Supreme Court has held that states may not prohibit abortions ‘necessary to preserve the life or health’ of the mother.)
On top of that, Guttmacher says that 43 states already prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy, such as fetal viability, in the third trimester or after a certain number of weeks. So this is already a rare procedure that is prohibited in much of the country.
What kind of a “fact check” is this? It is pure, unadulterated drivel. Trump made a statement about Hillary’s position on late-term abortions. Kessler “fact-checked” it, and this is what he came up with: “This is already a rare procedure.”
That doesn’t address the substance of Trump’s assertion, or anything even approaching the substance of it. Was what Trump said true, or not? Since it was true—and since truth is inconvenient for the pro-abortion movement—we are left with senseless, incoherent babble from the people who purport to “check” “facts.”
What about the Los Angeles Times? Did they “fact-check” Trump’s accurate claim with any grace? “Donald Trump offers graphic description of later-term abortion, but such procedures are extremely rare.” Gee, thanks. Notice that the papers can’t dispute Trump’s “graphic description,” nor can they really mount an effective defense of Clinton. So they are reduced to this petty and genuinely irrelevant distinction: “Such procedures are extremely rare.” Good to know!
Politico, too, claimed that Trump “miss[ed] the mark” on abortion. But it is Politico that missed the mark. Indeed, it is not at all clear that Politico knew there was a mark to hit:
Trump’s graphic description doesn’t provide a fair characterization of how abortion procedures take place. The Supreme Court has held that so-called ‘partial-birth’ abortions are banned nationally, except for when the woman’s life is in danger.
Additionally, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, only 1.2 percent of all abortions in the U.S. take place after 20 weeks of gestation. Many states also impose restrictions on later term abortions. Under the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, states may restrict or ban abortions after fetal viability, although they may not prohibit abortions that are needed to protect the life or health of the woman.
Abortion restrictions vary by state but many ban the procedure after viability or at a particular point in pregnancy, such as 20 weeks or 24 weeks. Technically Trump is right that in a handful of states, abortions may be performed late in pregnancy. But late-term abortions are exceedingly rare.
But Trump wasn’t commenting on what the Supreme Court has held; nor was he remarking on the frequency of late-term abortions, or the scope of abortion restrictions across the United States. He was commenting solely on Hillary Clinton’s position on abortion. The fact-checkers are checking “facts” that were never even addressed at the debate.
Now We Get to the Truth
Perhaps the most viciously mendacious quibble came from Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN who, writing at the Huffington Post, claimed late-term abortions are generally undertaken to kill a baby who has birth defects. As she put it, “There are no ninth month abortions. Really. A ninth month abortion is a unicorn and so it’s ridiculous to even discuss it.”
How does Gunter characterize this “unicorn?” Simply put: “[T]erminations for birth defects isn’t ripping ‘the baby out of the womb in the ninth month.’ At 38 or 39 weeks, it’s always an induction and is simply called a delivery.” Got that? Killing an unborn human isn’t an “abortion” if you don’t call it an abortion. Rather, it’s a “delivery.” That makes it better.
I have very little faith that Trump, if elected, would do much of anything about abortion. His own ostensible conversion to the pro-life movement feels insincere and opportunistic, like most of the rest of his campaign. But at the very least he spoke accurately about Hillary Clinton’s position on abortion. The least the fact-checkers and the journalist class could do is assess his claim honestly. But why would they start now?