Trump Repeats a False Claim That Doctors ‘Execute’ Newborns

What Trump Said

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

President Trump revived on Saturday night what is fast becoming a standard, and inaccurate, refrain about doctors “executing babies.” During a more than hourlong speech at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., Mr. Trump admonished the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, for vetoing a Republican bill that could send doctors to prison for life if they fail to give medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion attempt.

The comments are the latest in a long string of incendiary statements from the president on abortion.

He wrote in January on Twitter that Democrats had become the “Party of late term abortion” when efforts to expand abortion rights in Virginia and New York gained national attention. About a week later, in his State of the Union address, he falsely said New York’s law would allow “a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” And in February he responded to the blocking of a federal measure similar to the Wisconsin bill by tweeting that Democrats “don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth.”

The New York Times has previously fact-checked these claims, finding that late-term abortions are rare. In Wisconsin, only 1 percent of all abortions in 2017 occurred after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the most recent annual report from the state’s Department of Health Services. The numbers are similarly low at the national level.

In another fact check, The Times found that infants are rarely born alive after abortion procedures:

It hardly ever happens, according to Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. He performs abortions and is a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, where he leads a committee on health care for underserved women. Infants are hardly ever born alive after attempted abortions, though there are rare cases where an infant survives a premature birth but cannot survive without extreme attempts at resuscitation.

Moreover, The Times reported, doctors do not kill the infants who survive, although families may choose not to take extreme measures to resuscitate them:

Dr. Grossman said there were painful situations in which the fetus might be at the edge of viability and labor must be induced to save the mother’s life. For instance, a condition called pre-eclampsia, involving high blood pressure and other problems, can kill both mother and fetus, and in most cases the only treatment is to deliver the baby. If it seems unlikely that the baby will survive, the family may choose to provide just comfort care — wrapping and cuddling the baby — and allow the child to die naturally without extreme attempts at resuscitation.

Bills like the one in Wisconsin and the one that Democrats blocked in Congress in February would force doctors to resuscitate the infant, even against the family’s wishes. The Times reported in February:

The bill would force doctors to resuscitate such an infant, even if the parents did not want those measures, said Dr. Jennifer Conti, an obstetrician gynecologist who is a fellow of Physicians for Reproductive Health, an advocacy group. Doctors who violated the law would be subject to criminal penalties, as would anyone who saw the violation and failed to report it, she said.

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