There may have been moments of high drama during the presidential debate, but its a contrast to 2012 when Republican were accused waging a war on women

An unusual election year has ushered in an unusual stillnes: the issue of abortion, almost always a cause for pitched battles between presidential candidates, has been all but invisible on “the member states national” stage as the campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton draws to a close.

There have been moments of high drama. Trumps call for penalty when women get abortions in illegal situations collided with Clintons demand, unprecedented for a major party presidential nominee, to roll back a 40 -year restriction on public funding for abortion. And the third presidential debate insured Trump unleash an inflammatory line of assault, telling Clinton supported policy allowing doctors to rip infants out of the womb days before birth.

But contrast that with 2012, when the Republican ticket struggled to escape accusations that the party had waged a war on women reproductive health. This year, merely a handful of ballot races have revolved around issues of abortions.

Its causing major abortion rights groups, a fixture in modern politics, to readjust.

Trumps record with women took up a lot of air in this election, said Marcy Stech, a spokesperson for Emilys List. The Democratic political action committee is focused on electing pro-abortion rights women and is throwing its resourcesinto several Senate candidates in swing states.

He turned Republican from the party of the transvaginal probe a 2012 dispute that Emilys List and groups like it deftly exploited into something else entirely, Stech said. Weve never had to poll-test before what happens when you construct fat-shaming an actual campaign strategy.

Kaylie Hanson Long, a spokesperson for Naral Pro-Choice America, acknowledged that this election had the group feeling a little out of its comfort zone. It is unprecedented how this race is unfolding. But it is unfold, she added, to Narals advantage. Abortion may not have been a staple issue of this election, but thats merely because the oxygen has been taken up by a candidate who has said such nasty things about women.

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Deirdre Schifeling, the executive director of Planned Parenthoods Super Pac, agreed that the dimensions of the race were unusual, but to her groups advantage. In the days after the Washington Post published the infamous videotape of Donald Trump bragging that he could get away with groping a womans genitals, volunteer switchings for Planned Parenthood increased 126% in Ohio. The group deployed $30 mon voter turnout, and its canvassers have knocked on close to 2m doors.

Susan B Anthony List, the Republican answer to Emilys List, will by next week have knocked on 1m doors. Some of its canvassing is also intended to discouraging is supportive of Clinton. But a substantial proportion is aimed at keeping control of the Senate seats, in countries such as Missouri and Florida, that are crucial to a Republican majority.

These canvassers are highlighting Clintons longtime support for abortion rights, told Mallory Quigley, a spokesperson for SBA List, including her radical vote as senator in 2003 against a ban on a technique of second- and third-trimester abortion.

Trumps record as an anti-abortion rights crusader, by contrast, is much shorter. In an August 2015 primary debate, Trump said he could not commit to defunding Schemed Parenthood without considering how the organization was good for women. He did not commit to stripping Schemed Parenthood of federal monies until this past February. Then, in April, Trump suggested that as chairwoman he would attain no effort to overrule Roe v Wade. The statutes are defined, he told. And I think we have to leave it that way. He reversed himself one month afterwards, telling Fox host Bill OReilly that as chairperson he would nominate pro life judges to the supreme court.

But the reaction of pro- and anti-abortion rights activists alike has been to gloss over Trumps bumpy journey on abortion rights.

We can only go by what he has said in this campaign, Long said. That has ranged from saying that a woman should be punished for having an abortion if the procedure were illegal to taking advice, we assume, and talking points from anti-choice legislators like Mike Pence.

I dont doubt his seriousnes, told Quigley of Trumps current anti-abortion views. In the third debate, you could really feel his passion. Trump himself, she added, has acknowledged that he is a convert to the cause.

Still, it was only nine months ago that Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of SBA List, pleaded with Iowa caucus-goers in an open letter to support anyone but Donald Trump.

Pressed on this, Quigley replied: Well, when it came down to a general election scenario, and we had two candidates, there is no question. We would of course subsistence Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Policy not the person is the most important consideration.

Late-term abortion

One moment when the clash over abortion rights virtually resembled a normal election year went when Fox News host Chris Wallace requested information about abortion in the final presidential debate.

His questions touched a nerve on all sides. Asked about abortion late in a pregnancy, Trump opened up an inflammatory line of assault. If you go with what Hillary is saying, Trump told, you can take the baby and rend the newborn out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day.

Clinton shot back that many terminations late in pregnancy take place when something terrible has happened or only been discovered about the pregnancy.

Using that kind of scare rhetoric is simply terribly unfortunate, she said.

The exchange concerned one of the least understood and most controversial types of abortion those taking place when the fetus approaches or passes the point of viability.

It is a topic wracked by misrepresentations. Wallace raised the issue of partial birth abortion, a political term that doesnt readily correspond to a specific medical procedure, but which Congress nonetheless banned more than a decade ago. In 2003, the ban was upheld by the supreme court.

Clinton has never campaigned on overruling the ban, but as a senator she voted against it. In the final debate, she explained that she voted no because the bill didnt make an exception for the lives of the mother. Prior to the debate, she has said she supported late-pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother.

Trump, meanwhile, has committed to signing a ban on abortion in the 20 th week of pregnancy before a fetus is viable outside the womb.

But his suggestion that pregnancies are objective days before a pregnancy is full term doesnt appear to be supported in fact.

The percentage of women having abortions past the midpoint of their pregnancy is very small. The latest calculate by the CDC is that fully 98.7% of abortions take place before 21 weeks gestation. Most fetuses are not viable outside the womb for another three weeks. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights thinktank, estimates that proportion of terminations after 20 weeks is slightly higher, or about 15,000 procedures every year.

Clintons statements, which characterized these terminations as being done in cases of severe fetal anomaly, do not fully capture what we know about later abortions.

We know very little about women who seek afterward abortions, reads a 2013 analyse published in the journal of the Guttmacher Institute. But data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.( The examine characterized later abortions as those taking place after 20 weeks .)

Dr Warren Hern, who is one of only a handful of doctors in the country performing third-trimester abortions, agreed to speak in as much detail as he could about his own patients.

Hern is forecast that in a majority of his later abortion examples, the women are there because of a serious fetal anomaly. The remainder of his clients are a mix. Hern objects to the word elective abortion. It makes it sound like you decided to have curls instead of bangs as a hairdo, he told. But he lets that many although not a majority of patients having later abortions are not there because of fetal anomaly.

Without doing the kind of analysis I would need to do to be sure, I would say that more than half of the patients who come in[ post-viability] are there because of fetal abnormalities, and this was a very desired pregnancy, he told. The other, smaller proportion are usually very young women, 12 or 13 years old, who are victims of sexual assault, of incest. Or they are adult women who have been told by a doctor they cant get pregnant, or who thought they were post-menopausal.

Hern says he turns many women away. For one, after about 33 weeks, termination carries more serious dangers.

One of the things I have to decide is, first of all, do I feel comfy objective the pregnancy at a late stage when “were not receiving” obvious problem, such a fetal abnormality or a rape? If I have someone whos 33 weeks pregnant, and she should have had this done four or five months ago, Im not going to do that, because theres a certain quantity of hazard involved.

Trump, he told, is totally and abysmally ignorant about this topic. His statements are highly inflammatory and obscene and designed to inflame his adherents, who dont need to be inflamed.

But it is unclear if Trumps commentaries won him any followers.

Wallace also asked Trump whether or not he wanted Roe v Wade to be overturned. Trump declined to answer, telling the issue will go back to the states. But when Trump reiterated his promise to appoint anti-abortion justices to the supreme court, his support among a group of undecided voters judging the debate for CNN plummeted.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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