Trump declines to endorse a national abortion ban. He says limits should be left to the states

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump adjusts his cap as he watches play on the 18th hole green during the final round of LIV Golf Miami, at Trump National Doral Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump said Monday he believes abortion limits should be left to the states, outlining his position in a video in which he declined to endorse a national ban after months of mixed messages and speculation.

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


Trump, in the video, did not say when in pregnancy he believes abortion should be banned — declining to endorse a national cutoff that would have been used as a cudgel by Democrats ahead of the November election. But his endorsement of the patchwork approach leaves him open to being attached to the strictest proposed state legislation, which President Joe Biden and his reelection campaign have already been working to do.

Anti-abortion activists expressed keen disappointment that Trump didn’t go further.

In the video, he again took credit for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end Roe v. Wade, saying that he was “proudly the person responsible for the ending” of the constitutional right to an abortion and thanking the conservative justices who overturned it by name.

While he again articulated his support for three exceptions — in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk — he went on to describe the current legal landscape, in which different states have different restrictions following the court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022, which upended the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

“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.”

Trump had long argued that the Supreme Court’s decision gave those who oppose abortion rights “tremendous power to negotiate,” leverage he said he wanted to use 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 some opponents viewing abortion as murder and proponents seeing it as a fundamental women’s right.

The announcement drew immediate condemnation from SBA Pro-Life America, one of the country’s most prominent groups opposed to abortion rights.

“We are deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position,” said the group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections and national advocacy from the brutality of the abortion industry. The Dobbs decision clearly allows both states and Congress to act.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s congressional backers and supporter of a 15-week national ban, said he “respectfully” disagreed with Trump over abortion being an issue for the states. Mike Pence — a staunch abortion opponent who served as Trump’s vice president, challenged him for this year’s GOP nomination and has said he won’t endorse him — on X called the stance “a slap in the face to the millions of pro-life Americans” who have previously backed Trump.

Trump took to Truth Social later Monday to lash out at his critics, saying both Dannenfelser and Graham were “of absolutely no help as the Democrats staged rallies and won Elections they should never have won” after Dobbs, adding that Graham should focus instead on “the millions of people dying in senseless, never-ending Wars that he constantly favors and promotes.”

Biden’s campaign was quick to seize on the moment, with spokesperson Ammar Moussa posting on X that 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.”

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