LAS VEGAS, Nev. — During the third and final presidential debate before the 2016 election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton reiterated her commitment to keeping abortion legal and appointing justices to the U.S. Supreme Court that would do so.
“First of all, where do you want to see the court take the country?” moderator Chris Wallace asked in presenting his first question to the candidates.
“I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community,” Clinton replied in part. “… I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade…”
Later in the debate, Wallace asked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump if he would like to see the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe. Trump replied that he believes the judges he would appoint will likely send the matter back to the states.
Clinton, however, continued to assert that the government should not take away the option for women to end their child’s life.
“I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, most difficult, in many cases, decisions about her health care that one can imagine,” she said.
“And in this case, it’s not only about Roe v. Wade. It is about what’s happening right now in America,” Clinton stated. “So many states are putting very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice to the extent that they are defunding Planned Parenthood, which, of course, provides all kinds of cancer screenings and other benefits for women in our country.”
Wallace then asked Clinton how far her beliefs go about abortion.
“I want to explore how far you believe the right to abortion goes. You have been quoted as saying that the fetus has no constitutional rights. You also voted against a ban on late-term, partial-birth abortions. Why?” he inquired.
“Because Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account,” Clinton replied. “And when I voted as a senator, I did not think that that was the case.”
She asserted that there are cases where a woman’s health might be at risk if they carry the child to term.
“The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make,” Clinton said. “I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy.”
“I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions. So you can regulate if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account,” she added.
Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once said, “Protection of the life of the mother as an excuse for an abortion is a smoke screen. In my 36 years of pediatric surgery, I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life.”
“If toward the end of the pregnancy complications arise that threaten the mother’s health, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section,” he explained. “His intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger.”