Former presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has emerged as an unlikely weapon in the race to get Joe Biden elected on 3rd November. As President Donald Trump and Biden make their case for the White House, Buttigieg is on a campaign of his own — to silence Fox News reporters until they want to crawl under their desks. Buttigieg is one of the only Democrats to enter the echo-chamber that is Fox News this close to the election, but the former South Bend Mayor, once nicknamed "Mayo Pete," has seemed to cut through the noise to provide thoughtful and data-supported commentary on some of the nation’s most controversial issues.
But, an old clip has reemerged to show us that Buttigieg (now re-nicknamed "Slayer Pete") has actually been a Fox troll all along. In a video from a 2019 town hall discussing a woman’s right to choose, host Chris Wallace asked Buttigieg whether he believed that, at any point in pregnancy, there should be a limit to a woman’s right to an abortion. And Buttigieg gave perhaps the most clearly reasoned and compassionate answers we’ve ever heard uttered by a man.
“The dialogue has gotten so caught up in where you draw the line. I trust women to draw the line,” he said, cutting straight through the conservative framing that suggests that abortions, especially late-term abortions, are done thoughtlessly. Wallace pressed Buttigieg on that point, but his rebuttal remained completely collected. “These hypotheticals are set up to provoke a strong emotional reaction,” said Buttigieg. When Wallace shot back with the statistic that 6,000 women a year get an abortion in the third trimester, Buttigieg quickly contextualised the number. “That’s right, representing less than one percent of cases a year,” he said.
"So, let's put ourselves in the shoes of a woman in that situation. If it's that late in your pregnancy, that means almost by definition you've been expecting to carry it to term,” Buttigieg continued. “We’re talking about women who have perhaps chosen the name, women who have purchased the crib, families that then get the most devastating medical news of their lifetime, something about the health or the life of the mother that forces them to make an impossible, unthinkable choice. That decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.”
Yes, Pete. Buttigieg’s response sheds a light on how popular conservative arguments against abortion focus on fear and not the reasons people have abortions in the first place. And the data supports Buttigieg’s claims: Late-term abortions are extremely uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 91 percent of abortions are performed at or before 13 weeks. Further, most late-term abortions occur at the end of the second trimester. It is even more unlikely that abortion takes place “moments before birth,” as Trump once suggested during his 2019 State of the Union address.
Abortion has long been a favoured Republican talking point knowing that being anti-abortion will secure the pro-life vote and swiftly deliver a boost in support. Even now, as Trump runs for re-election and Republicans in the Senate push for Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to take Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat in the Supreme Court, abortion is a major topic of discussion because Barrett's confirmation could deliver a crucial vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Abortion is often made into an emotional argument about harming children and those getting the procedure carelessly casting aside the sanctity of human life rather than it being afforded the complexity that it deserves. Buttigieg’s response acknowledges that complexity.
If you ask us, Buttigieg would make an excellent addition to Biden’s team. Perhaps in his second career as press secretary, he could always silence Fox News reporters.