Pence spreads lies about later abortion to try to scare voters

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Medical experts have confirmed the Trump administration is spreading a 'false narrative.'

Speaking at a campaign event in Wisconsin last week, Vice President Mike Pence lied when he told voters that "Joe Biden even supports late-term abortion — allowing innocent, unborn children to be aborted right up to the moment of birth."

This rhetoric echoes that of Donald Trump. At a campaign rally earlier this year, he declared that all the Democratic candidates for president support "extreme late-term abortion, ripping babies straight from the mother's womb, right up until the very moment of birth." 

In a rally in 2019, also in Wisconsin, Trump was even more explicit with his lies, saying that after a baby is born, "The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby."

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, hasn't ever said he supports abortion "up to the moment of birth" and he hasn't said that he believes doctors and mothers should meet together to "determine whether or not they will execute the baby."

The accusations made by conservatives are not moored in reality. The Washington Post Fact Checker spoke to Katie L. Watson, a professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and she said, "'Abortion until the moment of birth' does not exist." Further, she noted that the scenario painted by Pence never happens. "No patient ever asks a physician to end her pregnancy 'the moment before birth,' and no physician would agree to do it."

These lies echo similar ones the GOP has been telling about "born-alive" bills all year. These bills purport to prohibit "murder" that takes place after a "botched" abortion. However, there are already ample laws on the books that criminalize the murder of children. What "born-alive" bills are really intended to do is to stigmatize abortions later in pregnancy, by calling them infanticide.  

Dr. Kristyn Brandi, who works as an abortion provider with Physicians for Reproductive Health, debunked these "born-alive" bill claims. She told Vox in 2019 she had never heard of a case of a child born after an attempted abortion and that "this is part of the false narrative around [these bills] and abortion later in pregnancy."

Republicans are hoping to build support against Biden ahead of the presidential election by grabbing the attention of their virulently anti-abortion supporters. Biden has indicated his support for abortion and increasing access to reproductive health care. 

Earlier this year, at a forum hosted by Planned Parenthood, Biden said he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment. For over 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has ensured that no federal Medicaid money can be used for abortion services, save for very narrow exceptions, even when a doctor recommends the procedure. Biden now says that repealing Hyde allows him to promote an expansive and federally funded health care plan without limiting access to abortion. 

Repealing Hyde is critical for abortion access. Women of color suffer more under this restriction, as structural inequities mean that a disproportionate amount of women of color are enrolled in Medicaid and therefore blocked from having any insurance coverage for an abortion. 

Earlier this month, Biden was endorsed by Planned Parenthood's Action Fund. In accepting the endorsement, he said that as president, he would do "everything in my power to expand access to quality, affordable health care for women, especially women of color."

He went on to give a strong defense of reproductive health care rights. "Together, we're going to reverse the global gag rule, and the domestic gag rule, restoring the Title X program" and that he would "protect women's constitutional right to choose."

The global gag rule blocks U.S. aid from going to any international organization that even simply discusses abortion as a health care option, while the domestic gag rule prohibits Title X family planning funds from going to any organization that performs abortions or even makes abortion referrals. 

Biden has also stated he would use his judicial nominations to protect the right to an abortion and to reverse the Trump administration's "all-out assault" on the right to choose. None of these statements constitute endorsing abortion "up to the moment of birth."

Pence and Trump's rhetoric seeks to demonize those who perform later abortions and those who need them, in spite of the fact there are complex, even painful, reasons that people sometimes choose later abortion. A big reason people end up having later abortions, though, comes down to restrictions and economics. When so many restrictions are piled up, it becomes difficult to obtain an abortion early in pregnancy and expensive to obtain an abortion later in pregnancy. 

However, no one has an abortion right at the moment of birth, nor do people decide to execute their baby after it is born. Those things don't happen, and Biden doesn't support them. As Dr. Watson said, the idea of abortion until the moment of birth doesn't exist. Instead, it's just "a boogeyman abortion opponents have created to frighten voters."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.