Donald Trump declines to endorse national abortion ban

8 April 2024, 16:34

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump watches play during the final round of LIV Golf Miami, at Trump National Doral Golf Club
Donald Trump. Picture: PA

‘At the end of the day it’s all about will of the people,’ the presumptive Republican presidential nominee wrote on his social media site.

Former President Donald Trump says he believes abortion should be left to the states in a video outlining his position after months of mixed messages and speculation.

“Many people have asked me what my position is on abortion and abortion rights,” Mr Trump said in the video posted on his Truth Social site on Monday.

“My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land — in this case, the law of the state.”

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks on the phone as he watches play in the final round of LIV Golf Miami, at Trump National Doral Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Mr Trump’s announcement will have been closely watched by Democrats who believe the fight over abortion rights helps them at the polls (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Mr Trump declined to lay out a timeline for when he believes abortion should be banned. He went on to describe the current legal landscape, in which different states have different restrictions following the US Supreme Court decision ending Roe v Wade.

“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.

“At the end of the day it’s all about will of the people.”

Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had written on his social media site Sunday night that he planned to issue a statement on “abortion and abortion rights” after he sidestepped questions about when in a pregnancy he believes the line should be drawn.

Republican-led states have ushered in a wave of new restrictions following the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022. Democrats believe the fight over abortion rights helps them at the polls and have outperformed expectations in elections since.

“You must follow your heart on this issue,” Mr Trump said in his message. “But remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture and, in fact, to save our country, which is currently and very sadly a nation in decline.”

Demonstrators march and gather near the Texas Capitol following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
Demonstrators march and gather near the Texas Capitol following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade on June 24, 2022 (Eric Gay/AP)

Mr Trump had long argued that the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe gave those who oppose abortion rights “tremendous power to negotiate.”

He said he wanted to use that leverage to strike a deal that he hoped would “make both sides happy” and bring the country “together” — even though the issue is one of the most contentious in American politics, with opponents viewing abortion as murder and proponents seeing it as a fundamental women’s right.

He had suggested last month in a radio interview that he was leaning toward supporting a national abortion ban at around 15 weeks of pregnancy — early in the second trimester.

“The number of weeks now, people are agreeing on 15. And I’m thinking in terms of that,” he said on WABC radio. “And it’ll come out to something that’s very reasonable. But people are really, even hard-liners are agreeing, seems to be, 15 weeks seems to be a number that people are agreeing at.”

At the same time, Mr Trump seemed reluctant to embrace a federal ban.

“Everybody agrees — you’ve heard this for years — all the legal scholars on both sides agree: It’s a state issue. It shouldn’t be a federal issue, it’s a state issue,” he said.

Mr Trump has tried to thread the needle on abortion throughout the campaign. He routinely takes credit for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v Wade, which he has called a “moral and unconstitutional atrocity,” and has called himself the “most pro-life president in American history”.

But he has also repeatedly criticised fellow Republicans for being too hard-line on the issue, blaming candidates who did not allow for exceptions in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the pregnant person is at risk for the party’s losses that November.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Mr Trump’s congressional backers and supporter of a 15-week national ban, said he “respectfully” disagreed with Mr Trump over abortion being an issue for the states.

President Joe Biden’s campaign said Mr Trump was “endorsing every single abortion ban in the states, including abortion bans with no exceptions”.

“And he’s bragging about his role in creating this hellscape,” campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said on X, formerly Twitter.

In a statement, Mr Biden said Mr Trump has played a part in being “responsible for creating the cruelty and the chaos that has enveloped America since the Dobbs decision”, a situation he said is reflected in women “being turned away from emergency rooms, forced to go to court to seek permission for the medical attention they need, and left to travel hundreds of miles for health care”.

Making an electoral argument, Mr Biden said Mr Trump is “worried that since he’s the one responsible for overturning Roe the voters will hold him accountable in 2024”, while Mr Biden is “determined to restore the federal protections of Roe v Wade”.

By Press Association

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