The crowd booed to show their distaste for late term abortions as the US President turned to what is becoming one of his recurrent themes.

Trump told the audience in Wisconsin that a previous Democrat Governor of the state, Tony Evers, “shockingly stated that he will veto legislation that protects Wisconsin babies born alive.”

“The baby is born,” Trump said. “The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don’t think so.”

Trump’s comments slammed as “pathetic”

The President was apparently referring to Evers’ intention to veto a state bill, supported by Republicans, that would have introduced life sentences for doctors who intentionally did not provide medical care to babies who were born after a failed abortion attempt. Evers had said the bill was “redundant” as there was already legal protection to ensure babies who survived received proper medical care.

Trump’s comments have been met with disbelief and criticism. Democrats Advisor Scott Dworkin called it “a pathetic and abhorrent lie”. The claim was also rejected by fact-checkers at The New York Times.

Julia Pulver, a Registered Nurse, wrote on Twitter: “NO ONE ever, in any hospital, nor any mother who has just given birth, is conspiring with a doctor on whether or not to commit infanticide. This is perhaps one of the sickest accusations levied by this deranged dictator yet.”

The incendiary claim repeats an earlier assertion that the Democrats support killing babies. “Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children,” he tweeted on 26 February. “The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth….”

“If there is one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies,” he wrote in a follow-up tweet.

In March, he told a rally in Michigan that his political opponents had “been aggressively pushing extreme late term abortion, allowing children to be ripped from their mother’s womb right up until the moment of birth.” He then made the false claim that Ralph Northam, Democratic Governor of Virginia, was trying to allow the execution of “newborn babies”.

Trump has termed the Democrats the “party of late term abortions”

Trump’s decision to broach the topic underscores a growing willingness among the GOP to position late term abortions as an election issue.

Despite the President’s insistence on highlighting late term abortions, the practice is very rare. Per statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1.3% of abortions in the US take place at 21 weeks’ gestation.

Dr. Jennifer Conti, a fellow with the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health, told CNN that late term abortions were “exceptionally rare” and often occur when a fetus has a terminal condition.

“It’s this exact reason that it’s nonsensical to legislate these cases: Nobody arrives at the decision to have an abortion after 24 weeks carelessly,” Conti said. “Rather, it’s the rare case of rapidly decompensating maternal heart disease or a delayed diagnosis of anencephaly, where the fetus forms without a complete brain or skull, that bring people to these decisions.”

While a majority of Americans support the decision in Roe v Wade that made abortion legal, support for late term abortions is less clear. Most Democrats candidates for the 2020 election have voiced their backing of existing abortion services, they have generally been reluctant to explicitly support third trimester abortion.