Saturday, 25 May, 2024


Let individual states decide abortion rights: Trump 

International Desk |
Update: 2024-04-09 10:00:22
Let individual states decide abortion rights: Trump  photo collected

Donald Trump has said decisions about abortion rights should be left to the states, releasing a statement on the contentious election issue on Monday.

Many in his Republican Party had wanted him to back a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

But Mr Trump said policies should be set by individual states - as they have been since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade decision in 2022.

Since then, abortion has emerged as a galvanising issue for many voters.

With several states moving to tighten restrictions, voters have thrown their support behind abortion rights in swing states like Michigan and even in deep-red states like Kentucky.

The former president's comments on Monday morning drew criticism from both liberals and conservatives.

In his video, Mr Trump declared: "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."

Mr Trump also said he was "proudly the person responsible" for the change brought about by the US Supreme Court two years ago, when it overturned the longstanding Roe v Wade decision that a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy was protected by the US constitution.

In 2016, Mr Trump campaigned on appointing justices who would overturn Roe v Wade - and went on to put three conservatives on the court during his presidency.

In his statement, he acknowledged this would create a piecemeal situation: "Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks or some will have more conservative than others.

But he said it came down to "the will of the people", adding: "You must follow your heart or in many cases, your religion or your faith."

Mr Trump added that he was in favour of exceptions when rape or incest were involved, or the life of the mother was in danger.

He also reiterated that he was in favour of fertility treatments including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), a reference to a recent Alabama court ruling that opened a new front in the battle over reproductive rights.

The former president also falsely claimed that national Democratic leaders have a "radical" abortion position that includes "execution after birth".

Mr Trump, who is all but certain to be the Republican presidential candidate, acknowledged that the abortion issue has caused major problems for his party in elections held since 2022.

Voters angry at the Supreme Court decision have showed up at the polls to support Democratic candidates, as well as ballot measures intended to preserve access to abortion.

Democrats have seized on the issue as a way to help re-elect Mr Biden in November, and the Biden campaign on Monday swiftly shared Mr Trump's admission he was proud to have ended Roe.

The president also sent out a lengthy response to the Trump video, saying his political rival was "scrambling".

"Having created the chaos of overturning Roe, he's trying to say, 'Oh, never mind. Don't punish me for that. I just want to win,'" Mr Biden wrote.

He also alleged that Mr Trump would sign off on a federal abortion ban proposed by congressional Republicans if he returned to the White House.

Mr Biden has made universal access to abortion a central campaign issue and pledged that he will work to create a federal law based on the Roe decision.

On Monday, his re-election campaign released a campaign advert featuring a Texas woman who almost died when she developed an infection after being denied an abortion for a pregnancy doctors said was unviable.

Other Democrats also seized on Mr Trump's statement, with Washington state's Senator Patty Murray saying it "changes nothing".

"This is a man who bragged about overturning Roe, supports draconian abortion bans & said women should be punished for seeking care," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"Don't be fooled: we know a second Trump admin would do everything they could to ban abortion nationwide."

Conservative reaction to Mr Trump's message has been largely negative, with his former Vice-President Mike Pence calling it "a slap in the face to the millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him".

Some argued abortion policy should be set by the federal government, while others objected to Mr Trump's failure to take a stand on the number of weeks at which he would support a ban.

Earlier, Mr Trump had reportedly signalled support for a 15-week limit in private conversations with allies.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally who has proposed a 15-week abortion ban, said he "respectfully [disagrees]" that abortion should be decided by individual states.

"The pro-life movement has always been about the wellbeing of the unborn child - not geography," he wrote on X.

Kristan Hawkins, the head of the Students for Life of America, reaffirmed her support for the former president but added there was "some work to do to educate President Trump" on the issue.

While conservative states have moved to limit abortion access over the last two years, other states have passed laws to enshrine abortion rights into law.

Last week, Florida became the latest state to chart its own course - setting up perhaps the highest-stakes political showdown on the issue so far.

First, the state's supreme court upheld the state's right to prohibit abortion, giving the green light for a six-week ban to take effect on 1 May. This amounts to a near-total ban, given that many women do not realise they are pregnant at six weeks.

But the court is also allowing Floridians to vote in November on whether abortion rights should be protected in the state constitution.

Mr Trump, who resides in Florida, won the state in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections - but the Biden campaign says the abortion debate has made the state "winnable" in November.

Source: BBC

BDST: 1000 HRS, APR 09, 2024

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