GOP debate aired a grotesque lie about abortion rights

Despite the looming shadow of the absent frontrunner, last week’s Republican presidential primary debate did get into enough non-Donald Trump substance to establish that even the putatively mainstream part of the GOP field is still far out of line with mainstream America on major issues. Especially one that potentially affects half the population in the most intimate ways imaginable.

On abortion, the grotesque, deeply misogynistic lie that legions of pregnant women are sitting around waiting until just before birth so they can maliciously abort their babies got wide airing with zero pushback from the candidates on the Milwaukee stage. (Or from the Fox News moderators, for that matter.)


The related claim that President Joe Biden and other mainstream Democrats favor policies allowing abortion for any reason up until “the moment of birth” was also tossed around as if it was established fact instead of political slander.

In fact, Biden and mainstream Democrats’ support for abortion rights generally echoes what was enshrined in the now-defunct Roe v. Wade: protection of that right up until fetal viability, which by definition is not late-term abortion.

“Roe v. Wade got it right,” Biden said earlier this year, going on to specify his support for restrictions in the final trimester. Polls show Americans agree.

Gallup found in May that support for unfettered abortion rights in the first trimester (which is when the vast majority of abortions happen) was a record-high 69%.

Further, all available data indicates that even in the most permissive states, late-term abortion almost never happens, and when it does, it is virtually always a dire medical emergency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 91% of abortions occur in the first trimester — long before fetal viability.

The fewer than 1% that occur in the third trimester are by definition medically complex and risky procedures that are virtually always the result of life-threatening medical emergencies for the woman or dire fetal abnormalities.

But last Wednesday’s debate would have the nation believe this rare and tragic anomaly is commonplace and has widespread Democratic support. It’s as towering a lie as any Trump has ever told (which is saying something), and they were all on board with it.

“What the Democrats are trying to do on this issue is wrong, to allow abortion all the way up to the moment of birth,” lied Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“President Biden is pushing for a Democrat proposal which is, in essence, abortion-on-demand through the term,” lied former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“… [S]tates like California, New York, and Illinois have abortions on-demand up until the day of birth,” lied South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. (All three states allow elective abortion until fetal viability; beyond that, it’s legal only in medical emergencies.)

This is a classic Republican strategy today, akin to other bogeymen like transgender athletes in high school sports and critical race theory in grade school classrooms: They take a phenomenon that is exceedingly rare or nonexistent, strip it of context, and cast it as an evil plot against the culture by liberals.

The actual threat is far more real, and was plainly visible on the Milwaukee stage last week.

When former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the GOP needs to find political consensus on abortion policy, former Vice President Mike Pence pushed back, reiterating his call for a national ban and declaring that “consensus is the opposite of leadership.”

If that sounds like, Never mind what the people want — well, that is, after all, the GOP’s position in Missouri and other states that are fighting to prevent the issue from getting onto state ballots.

That relentless strategy isn’t about stopping a procedure that almost never occurs. It’s about stopping women from having any say at all over what happens inside their own bodies.

No matter which Republican wins the nomination, voters shouldn’t forget that this is the party’s overriding goal.

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email