President Donald Trump used his United States General Assembly address to repeat a right-wing media mischaracterization about abortions that happen later in pregnancy. Recently the Trump administration has advocated for countries to sign onto a letter inviting members of the United Nations to “protect the unborn and defend the family.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar both signed that letter. During this most recent speech, Trump invoked a sensationalized talking point about refusing to support so-called abortion “right up until the moment of delivery.” From the White House:
TRUMP: Americans will never fire or tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion. We want and support religious liberty for all.
Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life. We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to assert a global right to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, right up until the moment of delivery. Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life. Like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child — born and unborn — is a sacred gift from God.
The idea that abortions are performed “until the moment of delivery” is inaccurate, no matter how many times right-wing media and Trump attempt to claim otherwise. In reality, later abortions are those that happen after 20 weeks, and they are performed for many reasons including medical necessity or barriers to abortion access. As Dr. Kristyn Brandi explained to Vox, “Patients do not request abortion when they are in labor and doctors do not provide it.” She also noted that abortions that take place later in pregnancy make up “about 1 percent of all abortion care,” and that patients seek this care due to “some type of medical complication or their fetus was diagnosed with some type of genetic abnormality that makes their quality of life after they deliver really poor.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has sourced his anti-abortion talking points from right-wing media. During his 2019 State of the Union Address, Trump repeated sensationalized misinformation about abortion measures in New York and Virginia, alleging that Democrats, “would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth.” Trump reiterated this talking point at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), declaring doctors “will execute the baby after birth.” Trump’s use of right-wing media’s sensationalized talking point is just the latest effort to stigmatize abortion care and to further condemn accessible reproductive health services worldwide.