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Hillary Clinton Defends Abortion Of Babies At Nine Months In 3rd Presidential Debate; Donald Trump Calls It ‘Terrible’

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A pro-life activist holds a doll and banner while advocating his anti-abortion stance near the site of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sept. 4, 2012Reuters

It's one of the most divisive issues in America and during Wednesday's third presidential debate, Hillary Clinton didn't hold back in clarifying exactly where she stands on late-term abortion despite the risk of further polarizing a significant portion of Americans for whom it is a decisive factor come election night.

During the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ahead of the November 8 election, Fox News' Chris Wallace asked the Democratic nominee how far she believed abortion should be regulated, and particularly why she believed the fetus has no constitutional rights and a ban on late-term, partial-birth abortion should be lifted.

An unflinching Clinton answered that it was not the government's place to be making such "personal" decisions for the American people and that she supported the provisions set by Roe v. Wade to regulate abortion on the basis of the life and health of the mother.

"The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make," said Clinton.

"I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions. So you can regulate if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account."

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Trump, who has promised to appoint "pro-life" judges to the Supreme Court should he become president, said such a view on abortion was "terrible".

"Honestly, nobody has business doing what I just said, doing that as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth," Trump said.

"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. Now, you can say that that's OK and Hillary can say that that's OK. But it's not OK with me."

Clinton said Trump's "scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate".

"We have come too far to have that [Roe vs Wade] turned back now," she continued.

"This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make and I do not believe the government should be making it."

While Clinton's support of abortion is nothing new, her support of late-term abortion is more contentious and puts her beyond the pale for many Americans, particularly conservative voters who want to see the U.S. tighten regulations around abortion so that the weight of consideration is shifted away from the health of the mother to protection of the unborn baby.

A poll by Marist in July found that only 13 percent of Americans agree with legalizing abortion "through the entire pregnancy."

Clinton is also more liberal than most Americans on the Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding on abortion. While Clinton wants the Hyde Amendment removed, a YouGov poll found that 55 percent of Americans and 41 percent of Democrats support the ban.

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