Anti-abortion advocates have grown more vocal in recent years—especially after the 2016 presidential election. On top of trying to restrict reproductive rights through draconian legislation, the anti-abortion movement has frequently used misinformation to demonize abortion providers and their patients. These myths are even being spread by our president. Recently, Donald Trump claimed that some doctors and parents “execute” newborn babies.
According to The New York Times, Trump made the inaccurate statement at an April 27th rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The president was criticizing the state’s recently elected governor, Tony Evers (a Democrat), for vetoing a bill that would send doctors to prison if they didn’t administer medical care to fetuses born alive after failed abortions. Trump vilified Evers for his action, arguing that some parents and doctors would literally commit infanticide without the bill in place.
In reality, it’s extremely rare for abortions to take place past the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb (about 24 weeks). According to a report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, only 1% of abortions performed in the state during 2017 occurred after 20 weeks gestational age.
Trump’s remarks are also deeply insulting to parents who deliver infants who can’t survive. Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, previously told The New York Times that in these cases, doctors might offer “comfort care” to the newborns, but not medical treatment. For Trump to compare these instances to “executing” a baby is especially cruel.
The decision to terminate a pregnancy is extremely personal, and for some families, it’s a decision made because their child simply won’t survive. It’s despicable for anyone to spread lies about these procedures, but it’s especially despicable for the president of the United States to do so. We can’t let this go unchecked.