Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen appeared on “The Daily Show” Thursday evening and laughed with host Trevor Noah about President Trump’s rhetoric on late-term abortion. Both she and Noah skipped any reference to the remarks made by Democrats defending late-term abortion up to birth which had prompted Trump’s comments. Wen also misled about the reasons women get late-term abortions.
“When you look at the arguments that Republicans pose from the other side they say we are here to protect the unborn child,” Noah commented, “President Trump has been seen on the campaign trail saying this is about late-term abortion.”
“I mean President Trump actually said it’s gotten to the point where a baby can be aborted after it is born,” he continued to laughter from the audience, “now, I don’t know what that means but, you’re a doctor, what do they mean by late-term abortions like after birth or at birth?”
“Good response from the audience,” Wen said as the crowd continued to laugh.
“We have to call out President Trump for what he’s doing which is lying,” she said, “what President Trump is saying has no basis in medicine or reality and here are the facts: about 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks and those that occur later in pregnancy are because something in the pregnancy has gone very wrong.”
Wen did not provide a source for her claim regarding the reasons women obtain abortions after 21 weeks. A 2013 study cited by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute suggested the opposite, finding that “most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”
According to the most recently available 2014 data from the Guttmacher Institute, Wen is correct that only 1.3 percent of women have abortions after 21 weeks, however, that still comes to just over 12,000 abortions a year.
In his questioning, Noah was likely referencing the remarks President Trump made during his State of the Union address in which he discussed the push for late-term abortion legislation from Democrats and comments made by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments from birth,” President Trump commented. “These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”
The “Reproductive Health Act” became law in January and, among other things, allows abortion at “any time” to protect “a patient’s life or health” and removes criminal penalties for abortion.
However, Wen and Noah did not mention such legislation, instead acting as though President Trump had brought the issue up unprompted.
They also did not mention the comments from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam who told WTOP about cases where babies could be left to die after birth back in January. His comments were regarding Virginia Del. Kathy Tran's (D) bill that, she initially admitted, would allow abortion up through labor.
“It’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s nonviable,” Northam said of third trimester abortions. “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, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
The idea of abortion “after birth” which Wen, Noah, and the audience found so amusing was in reference to those comments from Northam about allowing infants to die after a failed abortion.
Democrats have shied away from the issue of strengthening legal protections for abortion survivors in these situations. A measure to do just that recently failed in the Senate and has been repeatedly blocked in the House.
The office of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who sponsored the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” pointed out that “currently, federal law does not adequately protect a born child who survives an abortion. On January 22, 2019, New York repealed protections (section 4164 of the state's public health law) for an infant born alive during an abortion.”
Democrats often point to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which became law in 2002 and ensured full legal rights for infants “born alive at any stage of development,” however, that measure does not specify a requirement of basic medical care for infants born after an abortion or any criminal penalties for doctors who do not comply with it.