Trump Lets Loose Stunning Falsehood That Doctors, Mothers ‘Execute’ Babies

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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President Donald Trump on Saturday night repeated a stunning falsehood promoted by anti-abortion activists that doctors and mothers execute newborns.

During a rally hosted by his 2020 re-election campaign in Wisconsin, Trump made the egregious claim after asserting that Democrats are “aggressively pushing extreme late-term abortion, allowing children to be ripped from their mothers’ womb right up until the moment of birth.”

“The 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,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

“It’s incredible,” Trump said. And indeed it is in-credible.

There are no laws that allow doctors to perform executions. Rather, Republicans in North Carolina and Wisconsin have in recent months introduced legislation meant to highlight doctors’ conduct during and after late-term abortions, in the extremely rare cases that babies are born alive following an abortion attempt. Senate Democrats blocked a similar resolution from Republicans earlier this year.

Critics of the resolutions say they’re meant to discourage abortion access and make doctors look like executioners when in fact babies born alive following abortions are already afforded the same legal protections as anyone else.

Trump referenced two Democratic governors in making the false “execute the baby” claim Saturday. One was Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who recently said he would veto a bill that could make doctors felons based on their treatment of babies born “following abortion or attempted abortion.”

Evers said such protections for newborns “already exist” and called the legislation “redundant” and “not a productive use of time.”

Law and bioethics professor Alta Charo told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the proposal was “pure inflammatory rhetoric” meant to “create the false impression that abortion providers practice infanticide.” Babies born alive are already “granted equal protection of the law,” she said.

Trump also referenced Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam: “Until this crazy man in Virginia said it, nobody even thought of that.”

The President seemed to have been referencing one widely misinterpreted comment from Northam, one that he has spewed falsehoods about before, regarding third-trimester abortions.

Referring to fetuses that have “severe deformities” and are “nonviable” outside of the womb, Northam said during a January interview: “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Anti-abortion activists took his comment out of context as a description of infanticide, in fact, as the governor and a spokesperson for him later reiterated, he was speaking about babies who would not survive outside of the womb.

“No woman seeks a third-trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor,” a spokesperson for Northam told Politifact of the comments. “Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal medical decisions.”

Responding to Trump’s speech Saturday night, Julia Pulver, who said on Twitter that she was a registered newborn intensive care unit nurse who’d cared for families with babies who were not viable outside of the womb, responded to Trump’s falsehood.

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