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Beto O’Rourke, This Is What a Third-Trimester Abortion Is

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AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Beto O’Rourke recently argued that, while unborn life has value, abortion is still a “decision for the woman.” It’s also a decision that becomes increasingly difficult to defend when described in detail – something the media rarely do.


On August 26, the Democratic presidential candidate expressed his support for abortion – even up until the day before birth. O’Rourke made his comments during a town hall Q&A held at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

The first question that evening came from a 29-year-old man who was curious about the former Texas representative’s abortion stance.

“Someone asked you specifically about third-trimester abortions, and you said that’s a decision left up to the mother,” he said, remembering O’Rourke’s past comments during a Cleveland event in March. He wanted to know if O’Rourke still agreed with that. 

“I was born September 8, 1989, and I want to know if you think on September 7, 1989, my life had no value,” he told O’Rourke.

The Democrat politician responded, “Of course I don’t think that. And of course I’m glad that you’re here.” But, he added, his answer on abortion “remains the same.”

“This is a decision that neither you, nor I, nor the United States government should be making. That’s a decision for the woman to make,” O’Rourke said to the crowd’s delight. “We want her to have the best possible access to care and to a medical provider.”


After warning his audience about threats to abortion and Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the U.S., O’Rourke concluded that “I don’t question the decisions that a woman makes.”

“Only she knows what she knows, and I want to trust her with that,” he added. 

But the pro-life movement doesn’t challenge abortion because it distrusts women. It challenges abortion to protect women – and all human life – from the moment of conception.

O’Rourke’s comments mirror many in the media who attack any restrictions or limits on abortion. But abortion, and how it works, is difficult to defend when looked at in detail.

In 2016, Dr. Anthony Levatino, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has performed more than 1,200 abortions, examined the different procedures with pro-life group Live Action. 

During a third trimester induced abortion, which is “performed 25 weeks to term,” the unborn baby is “almost fully developed and viable” or “could survive outside the womb if the mother were to go into labor prematurely,” he said. He’s right – as The New York Times reported in 2015, studies show that babies can survive at 22 weeks. 


An abortionist “uses a large needle to inject a drug called digoxin” that “will cause fatal cardiac arrest,” Levatino said. The needle travels “through the woman’s abdomen or through her vagina and into the baby, targeting either the head, torso, or heart.” The baby’s life ends.

Next, the abortionist “inserts multiple sticks of seaweed called laminaria into the woman’s cervix” which will “slowly open up the cervix for delivery of a stillborn baby.” A couple days later, the abortionist “replaces the laminaria and may perform a second ultrasound to ensure the baby is dead.”

The mother “may be advised to deliver her baby into a bathroom toilet,” he said. But “if she can make it to the clinic, she will do so during her severest contractions.” He concluded, “if the baby does not come out whole,” then the abortionist “uses clamps and forceps to dismember the baby piece by piece.”

That’s because unborn babies – especially the day before birth – have pieces. 

By the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant, her unborn baby likely already has a heartbeat, which media admit begins around six weeks of pregnancy. In the second trimester, according to, unborn babies boast fingerprints and can suck their thumbs. In the third trimester, they can detect light and even practice breathing.


Abortions performed past 21 weeks are rare, but they still happen, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List. On top of that, CLI has found that the United States is one of only seven countries with elective abortions past 20 weeks.

Ironically, the abortion procedure itself, particularly later in pregnancy, reveals the humanity of the unborn. The abortionist has to make sure that each part comes out – that a heart stops beating. That’s because, the unborn, in the end, are so much more than just a “choice.”

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