Trump said lots of abortions involve “ripping the baby out of the womb days before birth” and that’s some hot bullshit

We’ve all been waiting to hear Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton go at it on abortion rights at a debate, and the discussion was just as brutally disturbing as you’d expect. Trump has considered enacting laws that would “punish women” for seeking abortions earlier this year, pretty much letting women around the nation know that his idea of when America was great was the dark ages during which we were all denied bodily autonomy, so his mission to portray abortion in literally the worst of terms Wednesday evening was thoroughly predictable. According to Trump, most abortions involve ripping the baby out of the womb days before birth.

“You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb as late as one or two or three days prior to birth,” Trump said. Clinton, who is staunchly pro-choice and endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, obviously set to disputing this thorough load of misinformed bullshit, but Trump’s words were so damaging to a procedure that’s already so dangerously stigmatized that it’s worth reiterating just how ignorant his statements were. American women should frankly be terrified that a man lacking the most fundamental understanding of the abortion procedure could wind up in a position to substantially impact laws around it.

In 2011, approximately 1.06 million abortions were performed, and according to the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on reproductive health, only 1.2 percent of all the abortions in the United States occur after 20 weeks gestation.

And it only takes minutes to hit up WebMD and find that second trimester abortions, also known as the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, hardly constitute “ripping the baby out of the womb.” A device called a cervical (osmotic) dilator is inserted in the cervix, often 24 hours before the procedure, to help slowly dilate the cervix. The procedure then involves a combination of vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage (D&C), the use of surgical instruments such as forceps, and, of course pain medication, to open up the cervix and remove pieces of tissue in the uterus.

A second trimester abortion is less safe (and more expensive) than a first trimester abortion, but ultimately, that’s not to say they’re at all dangerous, and medical professionals around the world vouch for the procedure’s safety.

To portray fetal tissue as a living, fully developed human being with citizenship rights, and, consequentially, portray abortion as murder, as Trump did at Wednesday night’s debate, is not only scientifically ignorant but ultimately dangerous. Abortion providers and women seeking abortion since the dawn of time have been subjected to retaliatory violence, intimidation, and arson attacks on clinics by people who believe that in attempting to prevent abortion, they’re saving “babies” from murder. There’s no shortage of examples of these domestic terror attacks, and a powerful one exists in the Planned Parenthood shooting last year in Colorado by Robert Dear, who claimed to be acting as a “warrior” for “the babies.”

What really needs to be emphasized in our modern political dialogue around abortion is fetal viability. Roe v. Wade established women have the right to an abortion up until this point, which is typically at 22-25 weeks gestation. Viability of the fetus, meaning that it could survive outside of the mother’s womb, is understandably a sensitive topic, but one that should ultimately wrest with medical professionals, doctors, and the pregnant woman involved.

Something so many abortion foes who go the route of presenting fetuses yet to reach the point of viability as citizens facing persecution seem to forget is that, while debate rages on about whether or not a fetus is a human being, there is no debate over whether pregnant women are. Women have constitutional rights (which include the First Amendment right to privacy with their doctors), meaning they can inherit property unlike a cluster of unborn tissue, and, oh, yeah, meaning they can make safe decisions about their bodies with their doctors without political interference. By denying their rights to bodily autonomy in favor of a mass of tissue (which to Trump constitutes a “baby”) we’re reducing them to second-class citizens, and in the 21st century that’s beyond not OK.