Politics & Policy

Hillary’s Appalling Defense of Partial-Birth Abortion

Clinton on the debate stage in Las Vegas, Nev., October 19, 2016. (Reuters photo: Mike Blake)
Her rhetoric last night was dishonest, but not surprising.

Early on in last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton confirmed that, if elected, she will toe the party line on abortion: Predictably, she promised to uphold Roe v. Wade and guaranteed that Planned Parenthood would never be defunded under her administration. But when moderator Chris Wallace pressed her on the more extreme abortion stances she has taken in the past, she was unmoved. She defended her record, going so far as to argue, for a host of false reasons, that partial-birth abortion is an acceptable practice.

“You have been quoted as saying that the fetus has no constitutional rights,” Wallace said. “You also voted against a ban on late-term, partial-birth abortions. Why?”

“Because Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account,” Clinton replied, attempting to justify partial-birth abortion by invoking the mother’s well-being:

The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get 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’s defense of partial-birth abortion, the appalling practice whereby a baby is half delivered and then killed, is remarkably easy to dissemble. The Supreme Court ruled the federal ban on partial-birth abortion to be constitutional in the 2007 case Gonzales v. Carhart, affirming that the government has the power to regulate abortion despite Roe. Furthermore, Roe’s companion case, Doe v. Bolton, so expansively defined the “mother’s health” exception in Roe — it includes “physical, emotional, psychological, [and] familial” health, according to Doe — as to justify virtually any abortion, making it ludicrous to assert that the exception is a narrow, rarely invoked fiat that exists to protect the occasional partial-birth abortion.

The flawed case in favor of partial-birth also rests on the unbelievable illusion that partial-birth abortion is ever necessary to save a woman’s life. In fact, considerable research has shown that almost all partial-birth abortions are performed on healthy mothers and healthy children, most often in cases where a woman cannot make up her mind about whether or not to abort until late in the pregnancy. There is no “health condition” a mother could have that requires her to half deliver her child so it can be injected with poison that stops its heart from beating. There is no “condition” a child could have that would require it to be killed; unless, of course, Clinton means a “condition” such as Down syndrome or another disability that would, supposedly, make death preferable to a life of suffering.

Though Clinton’s rhetoric last night was not quite as far left as that of pro-abortion groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood — both of which want abortion-on-demand, federally funded and guaranteed to women regardless of their reasons — it belied her long history of support for their agenda. As Ramesh Ponnuru noted last week, Clinton has never stipulated that partial-birth abortion procedures should only be permitted in cases where the life of the mother is in grave danger. During her time in the Senate, she voted repeatedly to keep the practice legal, regardless of the extenuating circumstances. As president, it is nearly guaranteed that she would continue to protect late-term and partial-birth abortion, whether for a woman’s “health” or any other contrived reason.

Moments before Wallace asked her about abortion, Clinton said the following in response to a question on the Second Amendment:

Unfortunately, dozens of toddlers injure themselves, even kill people with guns, because, unfortunately, not everyone who has loaded guns in their homes takes appropriate precautions. But there’s no doubt that I respect the Second Amendment, that I also believe there’s an individual right to bear arms. That is not in conflict with sensible, commonsense regulation.

In other words, according to Clinton, the government can increase gun regulations because some children might be harmed when adults don’t take proper safety precautions. But when it comes to partial-birth abortion, the woman who will likely be our next president does “not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”

#related#By Clinton’s logic, the government has the authority to prevent citizens from obtaining guns, but it would be wrong for the government to interfere with a woman’s decision to end the life of her child. If it sounds like lunacy, that’s because it is. But it’s also the official position of today’s Democratic party, and of the woman who is three weeks from winning the White House.

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