We fact-checked Donald Trump’s speech about abortion

One truth, many non-truths.
One truth, many non-truths.
Image: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
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Ahead of the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which recognized American women’s right to abortion, a different anniversary was celebrated today: The 45th march for life, a gathering of anti-abortion protesters in DC.

According to organizers, this was the largest and arguably most illustrious gathering yet: president Trump, vice-president Pence, and house speaker Paul Ryan all spoke in the Rose Garden, in front of representatives of anti-choice groups. Trump made a speech containing a few questionable claims.

Below is a fact-checking of his main points:

“As you all know, Roe versus Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive laws anywhere in the world.”

False. In most US states, abortion laws are in line with those of most of Europe (with the exception of Ireland, Great Britain, Poland and Finland), all of Central Asia, a large part of East Asia, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Malawi, Tunisia, Uruguay, Guyana, and French Guyana.

“The United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late term abortions, along with China, North Korea, and others.”

True-ish. The “seven countries” Trump refers to were identified in research conducted by an anti-abortion group. These countries are North Korea, Vietnam, China, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore. However, this also applies to the state of Victoria in Australia.

However, the statement is misleading because it doesn’t mention the fact that many other countries allow therapeutic late term abortion—usually for health concerns related to the fetus. Fetal health concerns are the most common reason for the 1.3% of US abortions that happen at late term, and which the GOP would like to stop.

“Right now, in a number of states, the law allows babies to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.”

True. All states, in fact all countries, allow this.

“Americans are more and more pro-life, you see that all the time.”

False. According to Gallup, which has been tracking public opinion of abortion for decades, the sentiment has not changed dramatically in the past few years. The percentage of Americans who call themselves pro-life has oscillated in the past two decades between a maximum of 56% and a minimum of 41% in 2012. It is now at 49%.

“Only 12% of Americans support abortion on demand at any time.”

False. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who think abortion should be legal under any circumstance is 29%—it was at its minimum in 1975 (21%) and at its maximum (34%) in 1994.

“I strongly support the House of Representatives’ Pain-Capable Bill, which would end painful late term abortions nationwide.”

False. The bill, proposed by Trent Frank, is based on the belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 week of gestation. There is no scientific proof to support such claim.

Speaking about a woman who chose not to have an abortion Trump said:

“She named [her son] Benedict, which means ‘blessing.'”

False-ish. Benedict means “blessed” not “blessing.”