Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton continued her longstanding support of abortion rights and Planned Parenthood during the final presidential debate in Las Vegas, claiming that late-term abortions are usually performed because the mother’s health is in jeopardy.
“I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to a woman, to make the most intimate, most difficult, in many cases, decisions about her healthcare that one can imagine,” Clinton said, adding that the issue is not only about Roe v. Wade, but also,”about what is happening right now in America.”
Debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Clinton how far a woman’s right to abortion goes, pointing out that she had said unborn babies have no constitutional rights and that, as a U.S. senator, she voted against a ban on late-term partial birth abortions.
Clinton replied, without ever using the word “baby” to describe an unborn child at any stage of development:
Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion, so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account. And, when I voted, as a senator, I did not think that was the case.
The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking and painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one can get: that their health is in jeopardy, if they continue to carry to term, or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy.
Clinton winced as Republican candidate Donald Trump explained the gruesome procedure of late-term dismemberment abortion during which the baby is ripped apart limb by limb prior to being removed from the uterus.
“That is not what happens,” Clinton denied, and referred to Trump’s description as “scare rhetoric.”
However, Clinton’s claim that partial birth abortion should be protected due to a number of women who have serious health issues is not supported by research.
A study published at the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute’s Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that women seeking both first-trimester and late-term abortions provided the same reasons for delaying their abortions.
Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, writing at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), observed that, in the study, women seeking both first-trimester and late-term abortions reported “not knowing about the pregnancy,” “trouble deciding about the abortion,” and “disagreeing about the abortion with the man involved,” with similar frequency.
“Among women in the late-term abortion group, the most commonly cited reason for delaying the procedure was ‘raising money for the procedure and related costs,’” Johnson said.
Those women in the late-term abortion group also gave reasons for delaying the procedure such as, “difficulty securing insurance coverage,” “difficulty getting to the abortion facility,” and “not knowing where to go for an abortion,” more often compared to women in the first-trimester group.
For many years, abortion-rights advocates have asserted that abortions after 20 weeks are performed because of maternal health complications or lethal fetal anomalies discovered late in pregnancy.
However, wider data from both the medical literature and late-term abortion providers indicates that most late-term procedures are not performed for these reasons.
Previous survey studies of late-term abortion patients have confirmed that most late-term abortions are performed because of a delay in pregnancy diagnosis and for reasons similar to those given by first-trimester abortion patients: financial stressors, relationship problems, education concerns or parenting challenges.
“So many states are putting very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice,” Clinton criticized during the debate. “To the extent that they are defunding Planned Parenthood which, of course, provides all kinds of cancer screenings and other benefits for women in our country.”
Fifteen states have moved to restrict abortion in various ways since the release of the videos last year that alleged Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of babies it aborts in its clinics.
Additionally, in 2015, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards testified before the House Oversight Committee that her organization does not provide mammograms, though she and others – including President Obama – have said that it does.
While campaigning, Clinton has compared pro-life Americans to terrorists.
“Extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States,” she said. “Yet, they espouse out of date and out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back.”
“I will defend Planned Parenthood,” Clinton said in Las Vegas. “I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions. We’ve come too far to have that turned back now.”