Hillary Clinton defended a woman's right to choose on Wednesday night, becoming the first female major party nominee to ever debate the topic in a general election presidential race.
The conversation began when Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Trump if he'd try to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Trump responded by saying he would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices and leave the decision of legalizing abortion to the states.
That answer pitted Trump and Clinton against each other in the strongest terms possible.
"I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to women to make the most intimate, most difficult in many cases, decisions about her healthcare that one can imagine," Clinton said. "We have come too far to have that turn back now."
During Trump's argument, he said Clinton supported abortions even in the ninth month of pregnancy.
"If you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother, just prior to the birth of the baby," Trump said. "You can say that that's OK and Hillary can say that that's OK, but it's not OK with me."
Trump's accusation that Clinton supports abortions nine months into pregnancy is misleading. Clinton has advocated for allowing regulated third trimester abortions (after 28 weeks) in the event that the life of the mother is in danger.
Similarly, Clinton made claims that Trump wanted to "punish women" who got abortions. While he did say that during a CNN town hall, his campaign later walked the comments back and said he would never support a law that punished women for abortions.
"The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make," Clinton asserted. "I have met with women who toward the end of pregnancy get the worst news one can get—that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the U.S. government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions."
By all measures, Clinton's participation in this conversation was historic. Women didn't earn the right to vote in the United States until 1920 — less than 100 years ago — and Clinton is the first woman to ever win a major party's presidential primary race.
In 2015, more than half of Americans identified as pro-choice for the first time in seven years, according to Gallup. 54 percent of them were women while 46 percent were men.
Regardless of your political leanings or your position on the issue at hand, it's worth celebrating that finally, someone on the debate stage could not only dig into the ins and outs of women's health care policies, but also speak to their effects. Conversations about women's health care should as a rule involve women — and tonight, a woman finally had the opportunity to take the lead.
Cover image via Shutterstock.