Trump attacks Clinton over stance on late-term abortion

GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE tore into his rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee MORE for her position on late-term abortion in one of the first heated exchanges of Wednesday’s presidential debate.

Trump strongly condemned Democratic nominee's support for what conservatives call “partial-birth” abortion, which he said could take place “as late as one or two or three days prior to birth.”

“What Clinton is saying is in the ninth month, you can go in and rip the baby out of the womb,” Trump said, mirroring language that is popular among the GOP’s anti-abortion base.

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Trump hit Clinton as she defended the right to a late-term abortion, which she argued was protected under the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade.

In the U.S., women can legally receive an abortion until the point of “viability” — a definition that has been repeatedly challenged in courts. Polls show that while most people support abortion in all or most cases, that figure drops when asked specifically about late-term abortions.

“The kind of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions to make,” Clinton said. “I don’t think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”

She said the government should only enforce restrictions on abortion when it protects the life and health of the woman.

Trump’s tone opposing abortion was more firm on stage Wednesday than in past appearances, a shift that could help him shore up support from the conservative base.

The fight against late-term abortion is a rallying cry for the anti-abortion movement, which has been slow to embrace Trump, who once identified himself as “pro-choice.” He also said earlier this year that he would “punish” women for having abortions if the procedure were banned, a misstep that Clinton called him out for on stage Wednesday.