May 14, 2024

Trump plays it safe on abortion

Former president Donald Trump has finally unveiled his policy on abortion, which promises to be an incendiary issue in the 2024 election campaign. 

In a video posted on Truth Social, his own social media network, Trump said that he would follow the lead of the US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs and let each state determine its own restrictions on abortion. 

“And whatever they decide must be the law of the land,” Trump continued. “In this case, the law of the state. Many states will be different, many will have a different number of weeks, or some will have more conservative than others, and that’s what they will be.” He said that like Ronald Reagan, he favours exceptions in the case of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life. 

Trump also said that he is strongly in favour of IVF: “The Republican Party should always be on the side of the miracle of life and the side of mothers and fathers and their beautiful babies”. 

Trump has been wedged on the issue of abortion by the Democrats. If he favoured abortion, he would be abandoned by his strongest supporters, pro-life Republicans. If he promised to impose more restrictions, he would lose votes in crucial states. So he has followed the lead of Dobbs. His support for IVF will probably please both sides. 

In the end, Trump made a political rather than a principled decision. “Always go by your heart,” he told listeners, “but we must win. We have to win.” 

It was a decision which displeased some of his supporters. Writing in Deseret News, journalist Samuel Benson observed:

Trump’s new stance, though — including his carve-outs for rape, incest and the mother’s health — could be enough to quell some of the evangelical fervor surrounding Trump. Republicans overwhelmingly view him as a person of faith, because he “supports policies focused on families” and “defends people of faith.” Betraying some pro-choice proclivities may dampen some of that enthusiasm.