Mike Pence calls Trumps abortion position a slap in the face


(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, is calling Trump’s latest statement on his abortion policies “a slap in the face to the millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him in 2016 and 2020.”

“Today, too many Republican politicians are all too ready to wash their hands of the battle for life. Republicans win on life when we speak the truth boldly and stand on the principle that we all know to be true – human life begins at conception and should be defended from womb to tomb,” Pence wrote in a post on Monday on X, formerly Twitter.

Pence has long been to the right of the former president on the issue of reproductive rights.

During his unsuccessful 2024 presidential campaign, Pence advocated for a 15-week abortion ban as a “minimum nationwide standard.”

In his statement on X, Pence — like Trump has — touted his role in the Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade’s national protections for abortion access.

“By nominating and standing by the confirmation of conservative justices, the Trump-Pence Administration helped send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs and gave the pro-life movement the opportunity to compassionately support women and unborn children,” Pence wrote.

Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, also came out with a blistering statement rebuking Trump’s stance, pushing for the former president to “acknowledge life begins at conception.”

Short argued that Trump had made his announcement because of “a political calculation that tries to avoid confronting the fundamental evil of” abortion and “continues the former president’s drift away from the conservative achievements of his own Administration.”

In a video statement on Monday, Trump, after months of dodging questions about his abortion position, rejected calls to endorse a national abortion ban, saying he believes it should be a states’ rights issue.

“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 said.

“At the end of the day, this is all about the will of the people,” he continued. “You must follow your heart or in many cases, your religion or your faith. Do what’s right for your family and do what’s right for yourself. Do what’s right for your children, do what’s right for our country and vote. So important to vote. At the end of the day, it’s all about the will of the people.”

However, Trump’s position did not address some of the key questions that have come to define the debate over abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overruled in 2022.

Trump did not say if he personally favors a certain number of weeks into pregnancy at which state-level bans should take effect, he did not say how he will vote on an upcoming ballot measure in his home state of Florida which would broaden abortion access there and though he specifically criticized that abortion policy had been decided at the federal level under Roe, he did not say what he would do as president if a nationwide ban passes Congress and makes it to his desk to be signed into law.

Trump also did not address his views on abortion medication, the use of which is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court by a group of anti-abortion doctors, and though he reiterated his support for three exceptions to abortion bans — in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the pregnant woman — he was not more specific on how those exceptions should be implemented.

His campaign did not respond to follow-up questions from ABC News.

He suggested in his latest statement that his views on abortion were tied to political concerns — something he has said before while boasting that he could find an electorally viable compromise.

“I think both sides are going to like me,” he said in September in an interview with NBC News.

“I think the Republicans speak very inarticulately about this subject,” he said then.

“Other than certain parts of the country, you can’t — you’re not going to win on this issue. But you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks,” he told NBC News.

Trump echoed that on Monday: “Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks [for their ban] or some will have more conservative than others, and that’s what they will be.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican thought to be among Trump’s potential running mate choices, agreed with him in a social media post of her own.

And the conservative public policy organization Concerned Women for America said in a statement from its CEO that the 2024 election is a “stark choice” between Trump’s opposition to abortion and Biden.

Other conservatives split from Trump.

Sen. Lindsey Graham released a statement saying he “respectfully disagrees” with Trump’s position, a rare defection for the staunch Trump ally.

Graham has long advocated for a nationwide 15-week abortion ban and he said he will continue to advocate for such restrictions.

Trump responded to Graham with characteristic bluntness, saying that Graham is “doing a great disservice to the Republican Party, and to our Country.”

Democrats, Trump said, “love this Issue [abortion], and they want to keep it going for as long as Republicans will allow them to do so.”

More broadly, Trump maintained on social media that sending the abortion discussion back to the states was the “policy of the Republican Party and Conservatives for 50 years.”

One of the leading anti-abortion rights groups in the country separately said it was “deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position” about deferring to individual states.

“Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections and national advocacy from the brutality of the abortion industry. … Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats,” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement to ABC News.

Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly known as NARAL) reacted to Trump’s statement on abortion by claiming that the former president had “deployed dangerous disinformation about abortion in order to distract from the truth about what he will do if elected.”

The group insisted that despite what Trump said on Monday, he “will work to ban all abortion nationwide.”

President Joe Biden, Trump’s rival in the upcoming election, contended in his own statement that Trump was now “scrambling” to shore up support by being ambiguous on his true stance.

“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.

He followed up later on Monday with another reaction to Trump’s views on abortion, saying in part that “Donald Trump just endorsed every single state ban on reproductive care nationwide. … Donald Trump is the reason Roe has ended. If you reelect me, I’ll be the reason why it’s restored.”

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