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Don’t Let Trump’s Abortion Rhetoric Numb You to Kavanaugh’s Distortions

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16.02.2019

At his El Paso, Texas, rally Monday night, Donald Trump somehow managed to outdo even Donald Trump on hardcore abortion porn. Deliberately distorting arguably botched comments made two weeks ago by now-scandal-embroiled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Trump told the screaming crowd that proposed Virginia legislation would permit the state to remove a newborn infant from its parents and “execute the baby.” In his own words:

The governor stated that he would even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world and wrap the baby and make the baby comfortable, and then talk to the mother and talk to the father and then execute the baby—execute the baby. … Millions of innocent, beautiful babies are counting on us to protect them, and we will. That is why last week, I called on Congress … to immediately pass legislation prohibiting extreme late-term abortion.

In a week, the president has gone from mischaracterizing a C-section to mischaracterizing infanticide. To be clear, there is no such thing as a “late-term abortion” and also no such thing as an “extreme late-term abortion.” There are medical reasons why abortion in the second or third trimester of pregnancy is recommended, for either the infant’s or the mother’s health, and in the stunningly rare cases when this occurs, it is often the cause of deep emotional suffering. Virginia’s measure aimed to tweak the commonwealth’s medical rules such that only one provider, not three, would be needed to approve any third-trimester abortions, and permitted that physician to approve a late-term abortion for any medical reason, including harm to the mother’s mental health. Both fixes are legal and in line with Roe v. Wade. None of them has anything to do with infanticide (Northam’s garbled defense was about infants who, once born, would require extraordinary medical efforts while suffering extreme pain).

All of this is to say that Trump lied about the Virginia law. What’s the big deal? He also lied about the number of people in the venue and about federal crime statistics. That’s what he does: He lies. But his lying about abortion is particularly pernicious because of how it aids and covers for and borrows from all the other little lies about abortion that have been allowed through the net. Indeed, Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s brief dissent in last week’s Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services v. Gee allowing a Louisiana abortion law to remain enjoined was........

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