Despite the looming shadow of the absent frontrunner, the 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.)
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. 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 the 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, 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 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.
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.