Fact check: Trump falsely claims Democratic states are passing laws allowing people to execute babies after birth

Former President Donald Trump continues to try to depict Democrats as the “true radicals” on abortion policy. To make his case, though, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has made wildly inaccurate claims.

In a Fox News interview on Wednesday, Trump said, “Hard to believe, they have some states passing legislation where you can execute the baby after birth. It’s crazy.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim is false. No state has passed or is passing a law that allows the execution of a baby after it is born. Killing a person after birth is illegal in every state. “Every state explicitly criminalizes infanticide,” Mary Ziegler, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law, said Thursday. “There is no basis for this claim,” Kimberly Mutcherson, a professor at Rutgers Law School, said Thursday.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a CNN request to specify which states Trump was talking about. Mutcherson said: “The falsity of the claim can be seen in the fact that Trump never identifies such a state.”

There was at least one instance, in an interview with NBC last year, in which Trump specified that he was making the claim about the state of New York in addition to unspecified “other places.” But he was wrong then, too: New York did not pass a law allowing babies to be killed after birth, though false social media posts claimed it had.

Similar false claims have circulated about California. Some of those claims were based on criticism of vague language in an early version of a Democratic state legislator’s 2022 bill that was intended to protect people from being prosecuted over miscarriages, stillbirths and self-managed abortions.

But the vague language was revised before the bill was signed into law.

Months before passage, a Democratic-led legislative committee acknowledged that the early text’s vague use of the phrase “perinatal death” might have inadvertently left open the interpretation that the bill would immunize people from punishment in all cases in which their baby died in the first days of its life, even in cases where the death was caused by acts after the baby was born. The final bill that was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom clarified that the “perinatal death” immunity is specifically for “perinatal death due to causes that occurred in utero.”

In other words, there is no basis for a claim that California passed a law legalizing post-birth executions.

A repeated false claim about legal scholars

Trump appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who voted in 2022 to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had guaranteed abortion rights around the country. During his current presidential campaign, he has repeatedly made the false claim that all legal scholars had wanted Roe v. Wade overturned and power over abortion policy returned to individual states.

Trump said it again in the Fox News interview: “I say, let the states decide. This is — every legal scholar wanted this to be where abortion should be.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim that “every legal scholar” wanted Roe overturned and the power to set abortion policy returned to the states is not even close to true. Many legal scholars wanted Roe preserved, as several of them reiterated in April comments to CNN.

“Any claim that all legal scholars wanted Roe overturned is mind-numbingly false,” Mutcherson, who supported the preservation of Roe, said in April.

“Donald Trump’s claim is flatly incorrect,” Maya Manian, an American University law professor who also did not want Roe overturned, said in April.

Trump’s claim is “obviously not” true, said Ziegler, another scholar who did not want Roe overturned. She said in April: “Most legal scholars probably track most Americans, who didn’t want to overturn Roe. … It wasn’t as if legal scholars were somehow outliers.”

You can read a more detailed fact check of this claim here.

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