What Trump Really Said With His Gruesome & Cartoonish Lies About Abortion

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Perreira.
Dr. Lisa Perriera is a staff physician at the Philadelphia Women's Center. The views expressed here are her own.

Almost 48 hours after Donald Trump used the national debate stage to broadcast his gruesome, cartoonish, and utterly inaccurate tirade about abortion, his words are still stuck in my mind. Perhaps I’m just one of those “nasty” women with a nasty habit of speaking truth to idiocy, but I couldn’t sit idly by and allow his lies to go unchallenged.

No, no one "[rips] the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby," as Trump grotesquely claimed. But the lies Trump told on the debate stage sounded familiar to me. They're the same lies told by the anti-choice extremists who picket clinics like the one I work at. It seems like he's sided with the people who harass my patients, and stalk and threaten providers like me. Either that, or he knows he’s lying and simply doesn’t care.

The lies Trump told on the debate stage sounded familiar to me. They're the same lies told by the anti-choice extremists who picket clinics like the one I work at.

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Trump’s comments make clear that he doesn’t understand how pregnancy works, or really anything about reproductive health. Perhaps that should be no surprise coming from a candidate whose only interest in women’s bodies is to judge, objectify, and “grab” them. But it also shows he doesn't understand how abortion works.

As a physician, I know it is not always possible for a woman to get an abortion as soon as she has made her decision. Many things can stand in her way: delays in finding out she is pregnant, not being able to afford it, a lack of doctors who provide abortion nearby, or barriers put in place by politicians, such as bans on insurance carriers covering abortion.

In fact, it is these harmful and needless restrictions that actually force women to get abortions later in pregnancy. And state politicians have passed 334 such laws over the last five years.

For some women seeking abortion, including poor women, these restrictions are enough to entirely thwart them. I think of those women often, those who never make it to a clinic like mine. My heart breaks for those women, forced to carry pregnancies they did not choose, denied the ability to determine their own futures.

I think of those women often, those who never make it to a clinic like mine. My heart breaks for those women, forced to carry pregnancies they did not choose, denied the ability to determine their own futures.

Fortunately, for other women who seek abortions, there are compassionate and highly qualified providers across this country like me. Every day, we come to work because we believe that women deserve quality care and our utmost respect.

I spend my days trying to help women from all different backgrounds meet their reproductive life goals. That could mean helping a woman prevent an unintended pregnancy. It could mean helping another achieve a pregnancy that they have wanted for so long. Or it could mean helping a woman have an abortion if she finds herself pregnant when she never wanted to be, or has a pregnancy that is complicating her health, or finds out that the baby she is carrying, that she very much wants, is ill.

To be clear, none of these women are having an abortion “days before birth” as Trump alleged. That’s just not a real thing. Most importantly, however we feel about abortion at different points in a pregnancy, a woman’s health, not politicians, should drive important medical decisions. Politicians are not medical experts, and this is not an area where politicians should be interfering.

If he truly respected women, he would make every effort possible to ensure that each of us could get the reproductive health care we need, without the Trumps and Pences of the world standing in the way.

When Trump talks about banning specific abortion procedures or other restrictions, he’s really saying that politicians should stand in the way of a woman having a range of effective, affordable, medically proven methods of abortion care available to her as her pregnancy progresses. In my opinion, the highest show of respect for women is to allow them to make their own reproductive health decisions, ones that are in line with their lives, their faiths, their current economic statuses, and their health.

So, when a patient comes in our doors, we support and respect her every step of the way: from intake and counseling, to the abortion procedure, to the recovery room and follow-up care. We are there for her, and often for her family, as they navigate this intensely personal and sometimes difficult experience. We are there for her questions; we are there to hear her story; we are there to assure her that she is good, and moral, and deserving of love. We see patients, but more than that, we help women feel seen.

Donald Trump would do well to see these women, too. He has said — more than once — that “no one respects women more” than he does. If he truly respected women, he would make every effort possible to ensure that each of us could get the reproductive health care we need, without the Trumps and Pences of the world standing in the way. He would stop fanning the flames of stigma that force women who’ve had abortions into silence and shadows. And he would stop lying about the procedure itself — and the women who seek it — as well as the people like me who have the honor and profound responsibility of providing it.
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