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Tipsheet

Donald Trump's Position on Abortion at Odds With Major Pro-Life Group

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Whether or not he's chosen as the Republican nominee and then elected again in 2024, President Donald Trump helmed what's been the most pro-life administration this country has seen. It's truly thanks to him that Roe v. Wade is gone, due to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision and the three justices Trump nominated voting the way that they did. With this latest presidential run, though, he's ruffling the feathers of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a group that has been supportive of him in the past.

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On Thursday morning, The Washington Post published "Abortion divides 2024 candidates and confounds many within the GOP." Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung had sent in a statement saying that "President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level."

Within hours, SBA Pro-Life America had circulated their response to counteract this particular statement, focusing on the importance of supporting a federal 15-week abortion ban, to protect pain-capable unborn children throughout the country. 

"President Trump’s assertion that the Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion solely to the states is a completely inaccurate reading of the Dobbs decision and is a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold. Life is a matter of human rights, not states’ rights. Saying that the issue should only be decided at the states is an endorsement of abortion up until the moment of birth, even brutal late-term abortions in states like California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. The only way to save these children is through federal protections, such as a 15-week federal minimum standard when the unborn child can feel excruciating pain.," the group's president, Marjorie Dannenfelser began her statement by saying. 

From there, her statement got only more direct in how they took issue with the implication of what the Trump campaign was saying. "We will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections," Dannenfelser warned.

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When it comes to the rights the U.S. Supreme Court did return to the people on the abortion issue, Dannenfelser's statement also offered a clarification. "The Supreme Court made clear in its decision that it was returning the issue to the people to decide through their elected representatives in the states and in Congress. Holding to the position that it is exclusively up to the states is an abdication of responsibility by anyone elected to federal office. This holds especially true for the president, more than any other federal official, because he or she has a responsibility to forge national consensus and progress on the most egregious human rights violation of our time," she concluded. 

SBA Pro-Life America, as the statement mentions, has long supported a 15-week abortion ban, and argued not long after the 2022 midterm elections that it was those candidates who supported such a bill that were successful. While the bill's sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was not up for election that year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) who supported the bill was, and won handily. Now Sens. JD Vance (R-OH) and Ted Budd (R-NC) also were not shy about lending their support. 

What's particularly noteworthy about this statement and reaction is that the group had been supportive of Trump when he first announced last November that he was running again, reminding in one of their multiple statements how "he kept his promises to the pro-life movement" as president.

In January, though, Trump cast blame on pro-lifers as to why the midterms were as disappointing and unexpected as they were. When speaking to Townhall at the March for Life later that same month, Dannenfelser mentioned in part that the interview was "the first" time she'd given such a reaction and that she had given the matter a lot of thought. "I've been thinking about this a lot, because he's always been a great ally, a great friend — personally and to the pro-life movement," Dannenfelser shared. "He's getting this wrong, in our opinion, obviously," she said when it comes to Trump casting blame. 

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It's also worth highlighting that as much as the Trump campaign was saying, there was also what it was not saying. Here's the full context in which the article discusses Trump:

Former president Donald Trump has barely spoken about the issue, telling advisers that he believes it is a difficult one for Republicans and not something he should focus his time on. His campaign did not directly answer whether Trump agreed with the six-week ban in Florida or what policies he would support nationally but instead said Trump believes the issue should be left up to individual states. “States’ rights,” Trump has said privately when advisers have floated the issue, adding his assessment that they should not talk about it.

“President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. “Republicans have been trying to get this done for 50 years, but were unable to do so. President Trump, who is considered the most pro-life President in history, got it done. He will continue these policies when reelected to the White House. Like President Reagan before him, President Trump supports exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”

Asked again directly whether Trump agreed or disagreed with the law DeSantis signed, the campaign did not respond.

Trump is not the only one to have incurred SBA Pro-Life America's criticism. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) was the subject of an op-ed in The Washington Times from Frank Cannon, who is a political strategist for the group, since he was perceived as not pro-life enough at the federal level. There have been whispers about Youngkin being a potential candidate, but it is looking increasingly less likely so that he can focus more on helping Republicans win at the state level. Youngkin not only won in Virginia in 2021, but helped Republicans gain the majority in the General Assembly as well. 

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Although he has yet to formally declare, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is mentioned throughout The Washington Post piece, especially since just last week he signed into law a bill that bans most abortions when a heartbeat is detected, at about six weeks. He had signed a 15-week abortion ban last April. 

DeSantis, who was reelected by nearly 20 points last November, is another winning candidate that the SBA Pro-Life America group applauded by name shortly after the election. The group has reiterated their support for the heartbeat legislation that he just recently signed. This includes in statements provided to Townhall shortly before DeSantis signed the bill, in spite of concerns from fellow conservatives. 

When it comes to the pro-life Trump administration, it's worth noting that former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been and remains a particularly pro-life politician, retweeted and reaffirmed the position that the life issue is not merely about states rights.

Pence may or may not be running for president himself in 2024, but has not yet announced a decision. 


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