Things got ugly during the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday when the topic turned to abortion, particularly late-term partial-birth abortions.
Fox News' Chris Wallace, the debate moderator, asked both candidates where they stand on the issue. When Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton explained she is pro-choice and wants women to have the right to terminate their pregnancy — particularly if it jeopardizes their health — her opponent, who is pro-life, accused her of wanting to "rip the baby out of the womb."
"If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that is OK and Hillary can say that that is OK, but it's not OK with me. Because based on what she is saying and based on where she's going and where she's been, you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb. In the ninth month. On the final day. And that's not acceptable," Republican candidate Donald Trump said, according to a transcript from Politico.
Clinton shot back, "Well that is not what happens in these cases. And using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate."
Here's where the candidates stand on abortion, in their own words:
Wallace: Well, let's pick up on another issue which divides you, and the justices that, whoever ends up winning this election appoints, could have a dramatic effect there. That's the issue of abortion. Mr. Trump, you're pro-life. And I want to ask you specifically. Do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which includes, in fact, states a woman's right to abortion.
Trump: Well, if that would happen, because I am pro-life and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that would go back to the individual states.
Wallace: I'm asking you specifically would you—
Trump: If they overturned it, it would go back to the states.
Wallace: But what I'm asking you, do you want to see the court overturn it? You just said you want to see the court protect the Second Amendment, do you want to see the court overturn—
Trump: If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen. That will happen automatically in my opinion. Because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this. It will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.
Clinton: Well, 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. And in this case, it is not only about Roe v. Wade. It is about what is happening right now in America. 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. Donald has said he is in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. He even supported shutting the government down to defund Planned Parenthood. I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women's rights to make their own health care decisions. We have come too far to have that turn back now. And indeed, he said women should be punished; there should be some form of punishment for women who obtain abortions. And I could just not be more opposed to that kind of thinking.
Wallace: I'm going to give you a chance to respond. But I wanted to ask you Secretary Clinton, I want to explore how far you think 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?
Clinton: 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. And when I voted as a senator, I did not think that that was the case. The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who have, 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.