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Demo­c­ratic can­didate Hillary Clinton made an emo­tional case for late-term abortion in the last pres­i­dential debate:

“I have met with women who have, toward the end of their preg­nancy, gotten the worst news one could get. That their health is in jeopardy if they con­tinue to carry to term. Or that some­thing ter­rible has hap­pened or just been dis­covered about the preg­nancy,” Clinton said. “You can reg­ulate [late-term abortion] if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account.”

Repub­lican can­didate Donald Trump fol­lowed up with a shocking response: “Based on what she is saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb. In the ninth month. On the final day.” While doctors cannot legally perform abortion that late into ges­tation, Trump got one thing right as he fin­ished: “That’s not acceptable.”

Clinton’s argument to allow late-term abortion when a preg­nancy endangers the life and health of the mother is unac­ceptable. Data inval­i­dates Clinton’s life-and-health-of-the-mother jus­ti­fi­cation of late-term abor­tions. Her argument per­tains to a tiny per­centage of the 144,000 babies aborted during the second and third trimester each year.

Risk of the mother’s health is usually the first argument pro-choice sup­porters make when arguing for late-term abortion. Sta­tistics show, however, that a preg­nancy almost never endangers a mother’s health enough to merit a ther­a­peutic abortion.

A study con­ducted by the National Maternity Hos­pital in Dublin, Ireland con­sidered more than 74,000 births over nine years. In total, 21 mothers passed away during preg­nancy. Seven died from dis­eases unre­lated to their preg­nancy, and the remaining 14 did suffer from preg­nancy com­pli­ca­tions. Of those com­pli­ca­tions, 11 could not have been foreseen and could not have been pre­vented by ther­a­peutic abortion. Out of the three remaining women, only one would have ben­e­fited from ther­a­peutic abortion.

This spe­cific study shows the rare necessity of ther­a­peutic abortion, and its results point toward the more general obser­vation that cancer, the disease most often asso­ciated with the need for ther­a­peutic abortion, occurs in only 0.1 percent of all preg­nancies.

Pregnant women diag­nosed with cancer are seldom pre­sented the option of car­rying their babies through treatment and to term, even though fetuses often tol­erate chemotherapy, according to Dr. Mary Dav­enport, an obste­trician and gyne­col­ogist.

“With any serious maternal health problem, ter­mi­nation of preg­nancy can be accom­plished by inducing labor or per­forming a cesarean section, saving both mother and baby,” Dav­enport wrote in an essay for the American Asso­ci­ation of Pro-Life Obste­tri­cians and Gyne­col­o­gists. “If a mother needs radi­ation or chemotherapy for cancer, the mother’s treatment can be post­poned until via­bility, or reg­imens can be selected that will be better tol­erated by the unborn baby. In modern neonatal intensive care units 90 percent of babies at 28 weeks survive, as do a sig­nif­icant per­centage of those at earlier ges­ta­tions.”

The need for ther­a­peutic abortion is minute, yet Clinton cites this as the reason to allow late-term abortion. She does not acknowledge the fact that 71 percent of women who aborted their babies after 13 weeks did not ter­minate their preg­nancy earlier because they did not know they were pregnant, according to surveys con­ducted by the Guttmacher Institute.

Clinton also sup­ports late term abor­tions when they can pre­serve quality of life for the mother, baby, and family. She ref­er­ences women who receive “the worst news one can get” later on in their preg­nancy, and her empathy is appro­priate.

The burden of finding out an unborn child may not live due to an abnor­mality or may live with a life-changing con­dition is unimag­inable. Since the debate, stories like the per­sonal account pub­lished in the New York Times just a week ago illus­trate the heart­breaking choice a mother must make when she learns her child may not live through birth.

To compare the psy­cho­logical damage of mothers who choose to abort for birth defects as opposed to car­rying to term is dif­ficult for lack of infor­mation. While sta­tistics proving the higher risk of mental health problems post-abortion are readily available, no available study effec­tively com­pares these two sit­u­a­tions.

The fact remains, however, that only 2 percent of late-term abor­tions are carried out due to birth defects, another infin­i­tesimal pro­portion making up the majority of Clinton’s claim.

As the sta­tistics show, Clinton’s main argument for late-term abortion ignores more than 90 percent of preg­nancies ter­mi­nated in the second and third trimester. She refuses to speak the truth about a policy that kills almost 150,000 babies every year — and in the words of Trump, that’s not acceptable.

Ms. Scheu is a junior studying French and jour­nalism.

  • BradinAZ

    It’s OK, the anti-abortion com­munity makes up for it by ignoring the children after they are born.

    • LeAnda Carver Lat­stetter

      Lame statement and unsub­stan­tiated. It is the only one I ever hear from the pro choice people.