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White House

Why Abortion-Rights Supporters Are Unhappy about Trump’s State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., February 4, 2020. (Leah Millis/Pool/via Reuters)

During yesterday evening’s State of the Union address, President Trump welcomed and spoke about Ellie Schneider, a young girl who was delivered at just 21 weeks’ gestation, weighing less than a pound.

“Through the skill of her doctors and the prayers of her parents, little Ellie kept on winning the battle of life,” Trump said. “Today, Ellie is a strong, healthy two-year-old girl sitting with her amazing mother Robin in the gallery.” Here’s more from his remarks:

Ellie reminds us that every child is a miracle of life. And thanks to modern medical wonders, 50 percent of very premature babies delivered at the hospital where Ellie was born now survive. It’s an incredible thing. . . . That is why I’m also calling upon members of Congress here tonight to pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies.

This prompted predictably irritable commentary from the likes of Slate and Refinery29, featuring the headlines “Trump Used an Actual Toddler to Stoke Fear About Abortion at State of the Union” and “Donald Trump’s State Of The Union Attacked Abortion Rights In A Dangerous Way.”

Notice that the outrage here isn’t simply over Trump calling for policies to protect the unborn after fetal viability, such as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation based on research suggesting that fetuses have the capacity to feel pain at that point.

Rather, what really irked these abortion supporters was the fact that Trump highlighted the story of a young girl who, despite being delivered prematurely, was able to survive and thrive with the help of medical care. Apparently if you embrace unlimited abortion, this isn’t something you’re allowed to celebrate. There’s a reason for that.

“Trump and the pro-lifers who love him often equate fetuses with toddlers in an attempt to portray abortion as murder,” the author of the Slate piece writes. Intrinsically speaking, though, fetuses and toddlers are, of course, equal — though they aren’t the same in every respect. Ellie was the exact same human being, the same person, when she was a fetus that she was during last night’s State of the Union. The only things about her that changed were her stage of development and her location.

This is why stories about premature infants surviving are so threatening to supporters of unlimited abortion access. Pointing out that a two-year-old girl was once a premature infant — delivered and cared for at the same stage of fetal development that about 12,000 unborn human beings are killed in abortion each year in the U.S. — and, before that, a fetus, underscores the absurdity of the argument for abortion.

Either all human beings — of all sizes and races and genders and mental capacities, no matter where they are located — have inherent dignity and equal rights, or they don’t. Rationalizing abortion requires drawing illogical lines about how a person’s size or location or some other arbitrary characteristic reduces them to less than human, and Trump’s comments last night exposed that fact.

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