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Trump Says States Should Decide Abortion, But Critics Say He’d Sign National Ban

Weeks after seemingly endorsing a 15-week nationwide ban, Trump now says the states should decide on the issue.

Former President Donald Trump is pictured during the LIV Golf Miami Tournament on April 7, 2024, in Doral, Florida.

On Monday morning, former President Donald Trump formally announced his position on abortion, stating that he believes the issue should be determined on a state-by-state basis — although he has previously indicated that he would sign a nationwide ban into law if he wins the 2024 election.

Trump, who is the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president in 2024, staked out a position that a majority of Americans disagree with, as polling has consistently shown that most voters back the right to obtain an abortion in all or most circumstances and disagree with the overturn of federal abortion protections.

In a video message on Truth Social, Trump stated that he was “proudly the person responsible” for the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn abortion rights that had been protected by Roe v. Wade for nearly half a century, having appointed three of the six conservative justices who sided against keeping federal abortion protections intact. The former president also wrongly asserted that “all legal scholars on both sides” of the political divide “demanded” that Roe be undone.

Trump went on to wrongly contend that Democratic lawmakers support abortion “beyond” birth — a claim repeatedly peddled by Republicans despite being debunked by several fact-checks.

Trump then called for abortion to become a state issue, rather than one that could be subject to a nationwide standard.

“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, adding that, “at the end of the day, it’s all about will of the people.”

Abortion is an internationally recognized human right. Such rights are not meant to be determined by democratic votes or endorsements from political leaders; suggesting that the issue of abortion should be left to state legislatures would be equivalent to stating that other rights (including speech, religion, and more) could be subject to the same standard.

Trump went on to say that he supports states making exceptions in cases of rape and incest or in cases in which the life of a pregnant person is risk. Notably, however, such exceptions are rarely granted, even in states where they are explicitly stated as a caveat to extreme abortion bans, as evidenced by several real-life examples.

Trump’s endorsement of a “states’ rights” approach to abortion was widely criticized by commentators, who pointed out that Trump endorsed a proposed 15-week nationwide abortion ban during a radio interview just last month.

“The number of weeks now, people are agreeing on 15. And I’m thinking in terms of that,” Trump said in that interview.

Weeks later, a Fox News poll demonstrated that a majority of Americans would oppose such a ban. Though he didn’t explicitly say so in his statement, it’s possible that Trump based his decision to temper his official abortion policy on that poll.

Molly Jong-Fast, a political commentator and contributor for MSNBC, stated on X that no one should believe Trump’s claims that he doesn’t back a federal abortion ban.

Responding to a CNN headline about Trump’s statement, Jong-Fast noted that “Trump installed the three justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, ergo this is a lie.”

Jong-Fast also added that Trump “laid the groundwork for a national abortion ban,” and that “his people are working behind the scenes right now, to ban the abortion pill.”

“Trump is lying about leaving abortion up to the states and if you repeat his lie you are enabling him,” Jong-Fast added in a separate post .

Other commentators expressed similar views of Trump’s statement on abortion Monday.

“It is a lie that Trump won’t support a national abortion ban,” wrote lawyer and journalist Amee Vanderpool.

“NEVER FORGET: Donald Trump supports banning abortion, takes credit for overturning Roe v. Wade, and thinks there should be ‘some form of punishment’ for women who have abortions,” Vanderpool added, referencing a 2016 town hall where Trump expressed that viewpoint as a candidate for president.

“Donald Trump is singularly responsible for the overturning of Roe & ripping away women’s freedoms — & he ‘proudly’ takes credit for it,” opined Democratic Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. “He’d sign a national abortion ban into law — no matter how much he tries to deny it.”

President Joe Biden, whom Trump will face off against in the presidential election later this year, also said that Trump’s statement on abortion was deceitful.

“Let there be no illusion. If Donald Trump is elected and the MAGA Republicans in Congress put a national abortion ban on the Resolute Desk, Trump will sign it into law,” Biden said in a statement.

Voters in several states have fought back against Roe’s overturn by passing statewide ballot initiatives enshrining the right to abortion in their state constitutions. California, Michigan and Vermont passed abortion initiatives in 2022, and Ohio voters passed such an initiative last November. Voters also rejected restrictive ballot proposals in Montana, Kentucky and Kansas in 2022.

At least three other states — Maryland, New York and Florida — will see ballot initiatives seeking to expand abortion rights in their jurisdictions this coming November, with a number of other states possibly introducing such ballot initiatives as well.

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