2016, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton — October 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Possibly the worst thing ever said in a presidential debate


Immediately followed by one of the best

It’s been a week since the last debate, but the horror of Donald Trump’s answer on reproductive rights is still sinking in.

As Republicans have trained themselves to do, Fox News’ Chris Wallace focused the question of abortion on something that doesn’t exist — partial-birth abortion.

“I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump responded. “Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.”

Clinton’s response was as good as her initial defense of Roe v. Wade, which just happened to be the best defense of reproductive rights ever presented on prime-time television.

“Well that is not what happens in these cases,” she said. “And using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate. You should meet with some of the women I’ve met with. Women I’ve known over the course of my life.”

Dr. Jennifer Gunther has done a beautiful job explaining why partial-birth abortion not actually a thing. And Samantha Bee picked up the baton for this near perfect segment of Full Frontal:

Republicans focus on these rare procedures, which are almost always surrounded by incredible grief, to draw attention away from the fact that they want to ban 100 percent of abortions. That’s the party’s official stand. And overturning Roe would make it possible for states and Congress to do that as quickly as they can.

But I didn’t fully grasp the cruelty of this rhetorical strategy until I read this column from Rev. Dr. Amy Butler from The Riverside Church who used her own experience to put it into perspective:

I kept asking what was going on, but nobody would tell me anything. As I sat there in the cold company of beeping monitors, my heart beat so fast and I felt so afraid.

And then all the doctors came in the room together, stood around the bed, and told me that my baby was severely developmentally compromised; that she would die at birth, if not before, after a very short, excruciatingly painful few minutes of life; and that continuing the pregnancy to full term would be very dangerous for me.

“It’s your choice, of course,” they told me. “You can terminate the pregnancy and deliver the baby now, or wait.”

I went home that night and cried, like I did for months and months after that day, but I never had a second thought about the right thing to do. For me it was important that the baby not experience pain, and that we have a little ability to say our goodbyes in as safe and loving way as we could. It never even occurred to me that someone else — the government? — would have anything at all to say about my own gut-wrenching grief. I didn’t know how we’d survive the loss, but I did know the right course of action for me, my baby and my family. And the ability to move through that goodbye as a full participant was an important part of just surviving during an inconsolable time.

It’s important to remember that Trump didn’t give a half a shit about abortion until he realized conservatives were craven enough to make him a hero by volunteering to be the world’s most famous birther.

His “pro-life” stance is entirely out of convenience and he understands none of the nuances and agonized reasoning that has gone into shaping the movement, which is why he called for punishment of “the woman.” The right never admits this inevitable consequence of banning a basic health care procedure because it reveals the true thrust of anti-choice policies for many conservatives: denying women the freedom many men take for granted.

But that Trump is willing to weaponize such grief is just another testament to his misogyny. It may even be the worst example of it — if he hadn’t been caught on tape bragging about sexual assault or suggested that the women who then accused him of assault weren’t attractive enough for him, as he’d said about Bill Clinton’s accusers decades before.

Think about that. He’s suggesting that women only have value if they’re attractive. And if they attractive? His reward is he might assault them. That’s the mind of a man who could take the worst moment of a person’s life and use it to score cheap political points.