Trump's stance on abortion laws criticized by former pro-life ally: 'Morally indefensible'

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives ahead of his arraignment at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on April 4, 2023. - Trump arrived for a historic court appearance in New York on Tuesday, facing criminal charges that threaten to upend the 2024 White House race. | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign pro-life coalition national chairwoman has condemned Trump by name in disagreement with his belief that abortion laws should be left up to the states as pro-lifers push to enact federal restrictions. 

In a Thursday statement, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser condemned the Trump campaign's statement earlier in the day to The Washington Post, saying that 2024 hopeful believes that the three justices he nominated to the Supreme Court "got it right" when they ruled that states should make decisions about abortion. 

"Republicans have been trying to get this done for 50 years, but were unable to do so. President Trump, who is considered the most pro-life President in history, got it done," the spokesperson said. "He will continue these policies when reelected to the White House. Like President Reagan before him, President Trump supports exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother."

The comments from the Trump campaign were in response to a question about whether Trump supported Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signing a six-week abortion ban into law. The bill prohibits abortions once the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat. 

The Dannenfelser-led organization, one of the largest grassroots political advocacy organizations spending millions each election cycle, called Trump's states-only position "unacceptable." 

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, speaks during a press conference at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, June 21, 2016, in New York City. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dannenfelser, who co-chaired the Trump campaign's pro-life coalition in 2016, declared that her organization would "oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections." 

"President Trump's assertion that the Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion solely to the states is a completely inaccurate reading of the Dobbs decision and is a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold," Dannenfelser said. 

"Life is a matter of human rights, not states' rights. Saying that the issue should only be decided at the states is an endorsement of abortion up until the moment of birth, even brutal late-term abortions in states like California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. The only way to save these children is through federal protections, such as a 15-week federal minimum standard when the unborn child can feel excruciating pain."

SBA Pro-Life America contends that the court's ruling allowed people to decide on the abortion issue through their elected representatives. The group believes it's an "abdication" of responsibility for anyone elected to federal office to maintain that the issue is "exclusively" up to the states. 

Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), agreed.

"Any candidate who does not vocally support a federal ban to stop the abortion genocide has not earned the support of the pro-life movement," Bukovinac told The Christian Post in a Friday statement. "Trump and other Republicans cowering in the face of literal child killing makes them totally unfit to lead. We will not allow both parties to turn their backs on the unborn."

Michael New, an associate scholar at the pro-life research organization Charlotte Lozier Institute and associate professor at the Catholic University of America, noted Trump earned "a great deal of goodwill" from the pro-life movement during his presidency.

The researcher highlighted some of the Trump administration's pro-life actions, including the nomination of three judges who correctly interpreted the Constitution and voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, which New stated was an "important goal" for pro-lifers.

"However, his recent statements that abortion is a states' rights issue jeopardizes that goodwill," New told CP in a Friday statement. 

"Protecting preborn children is a human rights issue — not a states' rights issue. I, along with other pro-life activists, will only support Republican Presidential candidates that pledge to sign federal legislation to protect preborn children."

"Furthermore, if President Trump refuses to support broadly supported federal pro-life laws like the 15-week abortion ban — he is hurting his chances to receive the Republican Party's Presidential nomination in 2024."

Pro-life leaders condemned Trump for suggesting on Truth Social in January that Republican candidates "didn't live up to expectations" during the 2022 midterm elections due to their position on abortion.

"It was the 'abortion issue,' poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters," Trump wrote. 

"Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again."

Following midterm elections, Dannenfelser criticized some Republican candidates for ignoring the abortion issue, citing this as a potential reason for some of the party's losses during the election cycle. 

During a press conference after the midterm elections, Dannenfelser said that liberal entities released various political advertisements about abortion, spending $468 million on the issue. Meanwhile, the Republican party focused its campaign advertising on inflation. 

Candidates such as Mehmet Oz, a Republican who ran for Senate in Pennsylvania, lost because they assumed the abortion issue would just "go away," Dannenfelser asserted. However, the reversal of Roe this summer has made it impossible for candidates to ignore the topic of abortion. 

"The simple takeaway is the simple political lesson that we've learned many times over," Dannenfelser said. "And that is that we win when we take a position that is popular and clear and confident, and we contrast that position with our opponents." 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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