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In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump delivered a holier-than-thou segment about abortion and the value of an “innocent life.”
“[There can] be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days,” Trump said. He was referencing the late-term abortion bills in New York and Virginia that have made headlines over the past week, due to hand-wringing conservatives wrongly calling a woman’s medical procedure “infanticide.”
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth,” Trump said. “These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.”
Other than the dramatized account—which is a violent sentiment he invoked before to rile up his base—his statement is also inaccurate. The New York legislation that he was referring to, passed last month and would allow a healthcare practitioner to perform an abortion upon their judgment of the fetus’ condition and/or the mother’s health within six months of pregnancy. Twenty-six weeks of a 40-week pregnancy is not “moments from birth.”
“These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world,” Trump continued, which is ironic because that sentiment is probably more applicable to the hundreds of children his administration is separating at the border, often with no planning of what to do with them.
“We had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth,” Trump went on.
Also not true: He was referring to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent remarks about late-term abortion, which has nothing to do with infanticide or “executing” a baby after birth. In fact, Northam said, “There may be a fetus that’s not viable. So in this particular example, if a mother’s in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired.”
Trump ended his grandstanding, with, “To defend the dignity of every person, I’m asking Congress to prohibit the late-term abortion of children.” His supporters erupting in cheers and a standing ovation.
The inaccuracy of speech was not a surprise, since most of his speeches are a mishmash of words with no footing in reality. In fact, Planned Parenthood was so sure this was coming that they prepared for a real-time fact-check of his remarks in anticipation of it.
Still, the country’s leader spreading falsehoods is not something to take lightly and the speech elicited a lot of emotions and eyerolls—both on the internet and in real life. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo even addressed Trumps’s speech in a New York Times op-ed this morning:
“Mr. Trump and the religious right are spreading falsehoods about New York’s law to inflame their base,” he wrote. “Activists on the far right continue to mislead with the ridiculous claim that the act will allow abortions up to a minute before birth.”
Many on Twitter also quickly noted the hypocrisy and the inaccuracy of Trump’s speech.
Everything Trump just said about abortion is a lie. Literally every single line of it. That’s not what the law does in New York. That’s not what the bill in Virginia would do. That’s not how or when later abortions are performed. The 20-week ban isn’t based in any science. #SOTU— Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman) February 6, 2019
Trump with an attack line on late term abortion designed just for the Christian right. #SOTU— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) February 6, 2019
As expected, Trump perpetuated the shameful lie that doctors and women commit infanticide. No responsible doctor in the United States would ever terminate a fetus that can be safely delivered from the mother and survive outside the womb. https://t.co/ZGrts7WMRG— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) February 6, 2019
He was doing well until he lied. And then he lied again. And again. His fear stoking about fantasy post birth abortions was a new low for this bottom feeding #POTUS #SOTU #TrumpSOTU https://t.co/QVECyOr4bS— T. Rafael Cimino (@TRafaelCimino) February 6, 2019
Trump opposition to abortion is interesting seeing as he’s paid for a shit ton of em.— steven pasquale (@StevePasquale) February 6, 2019
If you think for one second that Trump cares about abortion, your one sick puppy! He wouldn’t know a moral or a value or a principle if they slapped him.— tbaire (@terra2l) February 6, 2019
The most irritating part of the #SOTU was the misinformed comments about new abortion laws.. which are basically just reinforcing Roe v Wade. “Ripping babies from the womb” is just language to rile up the #Trump base— Vijay Murthy (@NotoriousVij) February 6, 2019
What we all can get on board with is his concluding remarks on this topic: “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.” If only we all agreed on the definition of “innocent life.”
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque