Abortion is, and has always been, one of the most divisive topics of political discussion in our country. President Donald Trump recently spoke at the 45th annual March For Life event on Jan. 19, where he said (and this is a direct quote), "Right now, in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother's womb in the ninth month. It is wrong. It has to change." Most believe he meant to say "torn from his or her mother's womb," but no matter what he meant, he's completely wrong. Not only is a baby being born in the ninth month of gestation a good thing, but abortions in the ninth month also just do not happen.
He is, of course, using "ninth month" to refer to late-term abortions. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 98.7 percent of all abortions happen in the first 20 weeks, leaving 1.3 percent of abortions to occur over 21 weeks. There is no data to suggest that of that 1.3 percent, any of the abortions occur around the 36-week mark. While the logical inverse is that this would mean there's no data to prove it doesn't happen, the government and doctors have made sure that it doesn't.
All but nine states and the District of Columbia have restrictions on abortion that are contingent on the fetuses' development. Most states restrict abortions to no later than 20 weeks, and many others stop at viability. Viability, or when it's possible for a fetus to survive outside the womb with life-saving measures, is generally considered to be around 24 weeks. This is months away from that nine-month abortion touted by the president.
But what about those more forgiving states? Surely nine-month abortions are all the rage there? Not likely. After a woman has reached 24 weeks in her pregnancy, if she were to seek an abortion, she would be be turned away because of the size of the baby. If a woman were so sick that she needed to deliver for her own health, doctors would either induce or conduct a C-section. This process is called delivery, and the baby would be cared for by the neonatal unit.
The only thing remotely resembling abortion that close to delivery is in the case of fetal anomalies, where the fetus is not going to live outside of the womb, or has already perished. This is when doctors help women make the heartbreaking decision to either induce labor, perform a C-section, or in exceptionally rare cases, perform a dilation and extraction. This is not the same thing as a child being born with disabilities who would live, but with complications, nor would this be used on a healthy fetus who would live outside the womb. These women are not just changing their mind at the last minute to not have a child, and doctors are not committing infanticide by ripping viable and full-grown babies from their wombs and leaving them to die. In fact, most states have bans on this process around the 30-week mark, making any version of abortion at the ninth month essentially illegal.
The misconception and outright lies about abortion stunt a genuine discussion about the process, restrict safe access, and affect the lives of women who have painful decisions to make. For so many reasons, President Trump is just plain wrong. Maybe he, as the "leader" of this country, should educate himself a little more before he opens his mouth.