Trump’s flip-flop on abortion is a fatal error
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump last weekend declared he will negotiate on abortion to “bring peace” between abortion advocates and pro-lifers.
He also attacked his chief challenger Ron DeSantis for signing a six-week abortion ban as Florida Governor that has been praised by defenders of the unborn.
It was not a good look for the former President, who just 24 hours earlier had dubbed himself “the most pro-life president in American history” before a crowd of Christians at the 2023 Pray Vote Stand Summit in Washington, D.C.
Trump’s flip-flopping on abortion came during an interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“I would sit down with both sides, and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years,” he told Walker.
When asked whether he would sign a federal bill protecting unborn children from abortions beginning at 15 weeks, Trump replied, “I’m not going to say I would or I wouldn’t.”
Seeking an edge over his rival Ron DeSantis, who recently approved a Florida ban on abortions after six weeks, the 45th president said, “I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”
Trump quickly qualified his remarks, adding, “But we’ll come up with a number, but at the same time, Democrats won’t be able to go out at six months, seven months, eight months and allow an abortion.”
It was a major misread — some might argue betrayal — of Trump’s pro-life supporter base, which has long argued that protections are needed much earlier in pregnancy to save the majority of unwanted babies.
Pro-life advocates have reacted strongly to Trump’s surrender on abortion.
Tony Perkins, a long-time supporter of Trump and chairman of FRC Action — a major sponsor of the Pray Vote Stand Summit — said, “Quite frankly, it was a bit troubling”.
Ryan Bomberger, founder of The Radiance Foundation, posted on X (formerly Twitter), “You don’t ‘negotiate’ about how many more children should be killed by the violence of abortion.”
While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Ron DeSantis hit back at Trump, saying, “Donald Trump may think it’s terrible. I think protecting babies with heartbeats is noble and just and I’m proud to have signed the heartbeat bill in Florida.”
“I don’t know how you can even make the claim that you’re somehow pro-life if you’re criticising states for enacting protections for babies that have heartbeats,” he added.
Perhaps the harshest rebuke came from Lila Rose of Live Action.
“Pathetic and unacceptable,” she wrote on X. “Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe’s overturning. Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies. But Trump wants to compromise on babies’ lives so pro-abort Dems ‘like him.’ Trump should not be the GOP nominee.”
Pathetic and unacceptable.— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 17, 2023
Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe’s overturning.
Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies.
But Trump wants to compromise on babies’ lives so pro-abort Dems “like him.”
Trump should not be the GOP nominee. https://t.co/oYRz3rNmre
Somewhat ironically, Trump quite possibly does deserve the title “the most pro-life president in America’s history” — at least, according to his erstwhile achievements.
Though Trump supported abortion for most of his pre-political life, he changed his tune when elected to the White House with the help of a strong Christian constituency and in the good company of pro-life advisors.
“Every child, born and unborn, is a sacred gift from God” was a phrase regularly heard during his speeches as president.
Trump introduced changes to the Title X program so that taxpayer dollars didn’t directly fund abortions. He expanded the Mexico City Policy to ensure American dollars weren’t used to promote abortion abroad.
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Mike Pompeo, a committed Christian and Trump appointee, played a key role in launching the Geneva Consensus Declaration, promoting the high value of the family, women, and the right to life on the global stage.
Trump made an impressive 226 judicial appointments during his single term — mostly conservative judges who will influence abortion laws in American courts for decades to come.
Three of Trump’s appointments — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — were to the Supreme Court, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority at America’s most powerful bench.
Indeed, the single greatest pro-life achievement of the Trump presidency was what those appointments allowed: the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
Mat Staver, president of the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, estimated in 2019 that Donald Trump fulfilled around 90 percent of the requests put to him by Christian groups. At the time, Staver called Trump “the most pro-religious freedom and pro-life president in modern history”.
At a time when abortion is brazenly and dishonestly promoted as a “reproductive right” and a form of “healthcare”, Trump pushed back without apology. In fact, the very traits for which Trump was and is despised — his bullishness and swagger — were also what he marshalled best in defence of the unborn.
All of these facts are what make Trump’s recent backflip on abortion so astounding.
It is evident that without the steady moral influence of strongly pro-life voices — former Vice President Mike Pence especially — Trump may be a deft political player but he is still a worldly man in search of any enduring principles.
The most bizarre aspect of Trump’s abortion flip-flop is its evident lack of foresight.
Pray tell which Americans would vote for Donald J. Trump if only he were a little more pro-abortion?
Ben Terangi is a freelance journalist writing from Milwaukee.
Image credits: Bigstock
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