BY HANNAH ROACH '17
Last week’s presidential debate exceeded many viewers’ expectations. It was even more painful than the previous two had been. Despite many of his particularly exceptional fantasies and fallacies, Donald Trump may have outdone himself with his discussion of abortion. His deeply flawed understanding of abortions included the following statement: “In the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother.”
Now, I know a large part of the Mount Holyoke College community will know a lot of the information I will provide throughout this article; I also know that many members of this college community will know this topic in far greater detail than I do. Still, this general election could serve as a critical point in the rights of those seeking abortions. Trump has repeatedly said that he would nominate a pro-life judge if he is elected president, in the hopes of turning abortion laws to states' jurisdiction. “I will say this,” Trump said during the last debate, “it will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”
This is Trump’s goal — and it is based on a fundamental lack of knowledge. Regardless of one’s opinions, every politician, and person for that matter, should build their arguments through education and information. Trump, however, doesn’t seek out the information that would inform his decisions and the one’s that would impact the lives of Americans.
So, Mr. Trump, I’m going to provide you with some information you might want to consider using. Roe V. Wade made any abortion wherein the fetus could be viable outside the uterus illegal; any physician performing an elected abortion in the third trimester could face the possibility of criminal charges.
Keep in mind, Donny, that criminal charges aren’t placed onto the mother, but the physician. So, when you said in March of this year that you wanted to “punish” those who receive abortions, you are taking a leap backwards from Roe V. Wade. Pregnant people who seek legal abortions are not punished and have not been in the United States since abortion was legalized.
According to The New York Times, there are few instances where women have faced any form of punishment due to the abortion of a fetus. The criminal charges are placed against those who self-abort, or in the case of a Pennsylvania mother, for providing her daughter with abortion pills. Many women chose to self-abort due to inaccessibility of resources.
Mr. Trump, I know you have since recanted these statements about punishment, but it is deeply disturbing to me that a presidential candidate thought, even if only briefly, that an abortion is worth any form of criminal charges. In fact, most anti-abortion groups discourage punishment against the pregnant party; hashtags like “#lovethemboth” circulated after Trump’s statements throughout the pro-life groups.
Okay, Donald, so what about the procedure? Here are some more facts for you: abortions don’t happen a day before a fetus is supposed to be born. The only way this would happen is if the pregnant person’s life is in danger. This would be a therapeutic abortion — designed to keep the mother alive even if it is at the cost of aborting the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group, 65.8 percent of abortions occur in the first eight weeks of pregnancy. Only 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks.
Only very few providers will perform this partial-birth abortion (or very late abortion). Overall, many physicians are moving away from learning the abortion techniques. A study published through the Elsevier Journal showed that the majority of abortion service providers are over 50 years old. Medical students are given the choice of whether or not they want to learn and do the technique. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists published a statement in 2014 explaining “opt-out abortion training, in which training is routinely integrated into residency but residents with religious or moral objections can opt out of participation.”
Our cultural and even medical view- point of abortion is constantly changing. Even Roe V. Wade does not keep abortions legal and accessible for pregnant people across the country. Several clinics have been forced to shut down due to the difficulty of navigating the complicated world of providing abortions. Legal loopholes such as too narrow hallways, too small closets or other building code regulations get in the way of clinics’ practice.
As I said before, our country stands at a significant cultural and political moment in terms of abortion rights. So, Donald, the last thing our country needs is someone who refuses to acknowledge the facts for the sake of standing behind ignorance.
And, Hillary, what we need now is someone to provide support and care for America’s pregnant citizens.