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Trump Says 15-Week Abortion Ban Is Something He Could Agree To

Abortion bans like these create "very real daily harms for pregnant people across the country," one critic said.

Former President Donald Trump arrives to vote in Florida's primary election at a polling station at the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 19, 2024.

On Tuesday, former president and current GOP nominee for president Donald Trump expressed his support for a 15-week abortion ban, a gestational limit that many have pointed out is dangerous when enforced.

Trump spoke about the idea of a national ban in an interview on a program on WABC in New York, touting it as a supposed compromise that he believed most Americans could support.

“We’re going to come up with a time — and maybe we could bring the country together on that issue,” Trump said.

Such a ban would limit abortion in states that have decided to expand abortion rights or keep the same standards intact since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to upend federal abortion protections in 2022. In states with further restrictions — including those that ban the procedure at all stages of pregnancy — extreme bans would likely remain in place.

Trump elaborated on his position in the interview.

“The number of weeks now, people are agreeing on 15,” Trump said, despite the fact that Americans haven’t indicated support for such a measure. “And I’m thinking in terms of that.”

Trump described a 15-week ban as being “very reasonable.” But later in the interview, he seemed to temper his own thoughts on the matter, saying it shouldn’t be a federal decision but rather one for states to decide.

Trump’s waffling on the position of a national abortion ban suggests that he is aware of the delicate balance he must strike on the issue. On the one hand, he is likely aware that elections in numerous places across the country (including abortion ballot initiatives) have shown that voters are supportive of expanding abortion rights, not restricting them. On the other hand, Trump knows that his base of support wants further restrictions, beyond those at the state level.

Gestational abortion bans at any stage are harmful, according to a 2020 commentary by Guttmacher Institute senior policy manager Megan K. Donovan.

“Gestational age bans are nothing more than a smokescreen,” Donovan said. “Gestational age bans have long been a favored tactic of antiabortion activists and politicians as they seek to undermine and ultimately overturn the constitutional right to abortion.”

Donovan added:

Whatever the purported reason, bans based on gestational age have always represented little more than an attempt to cut off access to abortion wherever antiabortion lawmakers and activists perceived an opportunity.

CNN columnist Jill Filipovic similarly derided the idea of a nationwide 15-week abortion ban in a post on X in January. Filipovic noted that Florida’s 15-week ban was also promoted as a “reasonable” compromise, but resulted in harm to residents of the state when it was enacted. She specifically cited the example of a woman named Anya Cook, a Floridian whose water broke at 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Cook “was refused an abortion, bled out in a bathroom, had to be put on a ventilator, and nearly died,” Filipovic pointed out.

MSNBC political analyst Juanita Tolliver criticized Trump’s recent comments in a segment on Wednesday night.

“We know that [bans like these create] very real daily harms for pregnant people across the country — people who oftentimes want their pregnancy but abortion is the only viable treatment for them to save their own lives,” Tolliver stated.

“When Trump says things like this, it can’t be dismissed,” she added.

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