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Trump: US abortion rights should be left up to states to decide


FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, South Carolina, Feb. 24, 2024.
FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, South Carolina, Feb. 24, 2024.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Monday that abortion rights should be left up to states across the country, both aligning himself with the 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning a constitutional right to the procedure and refusing to call for a national ban favored by anti-abortion activists.

Trump once favored abortion rights before becoming a national political figure in 2015 but then as president appointed three conservatives to the Supreme Court who helped upend the national abortion ruling that had stood for nearly 50 years.

He has waffled for months on how to deal with the contentious issue ahead of the November election, with his opponent, Democratic President Joe Biden, supporting abortion rights and blaming Trump for the Supreme Court decision.

Trump had claimed that he would be able to negotiate a deal on abortion that would “make both sides happy,” perhaps a ban on the procedure after 15 or 16 weeks of conception. Polls show Americans generally favor abortion rights but often disagree on the details of any restrictions.

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Trump said in a video on his Truth Social media site that each of the country’s 50 states — through state legislative action or voter referendums — should decide, and that “whatever they decide must be the law of the land, and in this case, the law of the state.”

But he added that he was “strongly in favor of exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother,” a position some abortion opponents oppose while others support.

“Many states will be different, many will have a different number of weeks or some will have more conservative [measures] than others, and that’s what they will be,” Trump said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about [the] will of the people. That’s where we are right now and that’s what we want — the will of the people.”

Trump said he "strongly" supports in-vitro fertilization access for "couples who are trying to have a precious baby. What could be more beautiful or better than that.”

Fourteen states have already banned abortions and two others have curbed it after six weeks of conception, a point before many women know they are pregnant. In contrast, voters in several states, including Republican-dominant states, have decided in referendums to codify abortion rights into their state constitutions.

Trump’s position drew an immediate rebuke from one of the leading U.S. anti-abortion rights groups, which had urged Trump to adopt a 15-week national ban.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, reiterated in a statement the group’s commitment to “defeat President Biden” and congressional Democrats, but also condemned Trump’s decision.

“We are deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position,” said Dannenfelser, who had thought Trump would call for a 15-week ban. “Saying the issue is ‘back to the states,’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats who are working relentlessly to enact legislation mandating abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.”

Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, Democratic candidates have won numerous elections focusing on the issue and Trump’s appointment of the three conservative justices.

In a lengthy response to Trump’s video statement Monday, Biden said, “Trump is scrambling. He’s worried that since he’s the one responsible for overturning Roe the voters will hold him accountable in 2024. Well, I have news for Donald. They will.”

"Having created the chaos of overturning Roe, he's trying to say, ‘Oh, never mind,’" Biden said.

Since the Supreme Court decision, despite predictions to the contrary, the number of abortions in the U.S. has increased, to 1,026,700 last year, the highest total in more than a decade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports access to abortion.

While the number of abortions has dropped to almost none in states with bans, many women have traveled to neighboring states where the procedure is still legal or obtained abortion-inducing medications to end their pregnancies. Researchers say medical, rather than surgical abortions now account for 63% of pregnancy terminations in the U.S.

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments on the legality and availability of the use of mifepristone as part of a two-drug combination to end a pregnancy. The court is expected to rule by the end of June.