President Donald J. Trump went on “Meet the Press” and was pressed on his views surrounding abortion in America. Trump, who is lauded as the President responsible for Supreme Court nominations critical to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, made a number of concessions during the interview that have since created heartburn for pro-life conservatives.
Here is the deal — I watched this segment of this interview three times. I paused, I hit rewind — I made sure Trump said everything he said as I am presenting it. You guys know I’m not a “Never Trumper.” You know I’m not “anti-Trump.”
But this needs to be hashed out — or at least acknowledged. It isn’t opinion or speculation whether these things were said — they were. The question is, what now?
Here are 10 takeaways from the exchange:
- President Trump was quick to note he “did something that nobody thought was possible” and the issue was returned to the states. Keep that in mind as we progress. SIGNIFICANCE: He acknowledges the issue should be returned to the states and was proud to claim the win provided by Dobbs.
- President Trump correctly pivoted to the fact that Democrats are the extreme people on the issue because they believe abortion should be legal after five, six, seven, eight months of pregnancy — or even after birth. Host Kristen Welker then said Democrats aren’t saying that. President Trump should have refused to accept that lie and continued the attack. SIGNIFICANCE: When that segment of the interview finished, Welker clarified with a “fact check” that late-term abortions are rare. He should have stayed on offense during the interview. He continued returning to that talking point, should have forced Welker to admit it during the interview — or at least not let it advance until there was an understanding. I can tell you this, it isn’t Republican state legislatures allowing late-term abortions. So Welker was wrong.
- President Trump said people will “come together” on the issue and determine the cutoff for legal abortions in America. He will find something acceptable for “all groups,” he added. “Both sides are going to like me,” another line from Trump. SIGNIFICANCE: I think most people who have seen and heard from “all groups” on this issue can agree on one thing — “all groups” on this issue will not come together and agree. Believing “all groups” will come together on the issue and accept some sort of compromise is just not coming at the issue from a realistic perspective.
- President Trump might — or might not — be willing to sign a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks. SIGNIFICANCE: Yikes. Could it get worse than that?
- President Trump attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing the Heartbeat Bill. He called it a “terrible thing” and a “terrible mistake.” SIGNIFICANCE: OK. It just got worse. Protecting unborn babies shouldn’t be labeled a “terrible thing” or a “terrible mistake.” And, remember Trump’s initial point — that the issue should be returned to the state? Well, Florida lawmakers sent a bill to Florida’s governor in order to establish a limit on when unborn babies can no longer be killed in Florida. I thought that was how Trump wanted the process to work. If it was a “terrible thing,” is Trump suggesting governors should veto state laws that protect unborn babies with a detectable heartbeat?
- President Trump used the phrase “anti-abortion” in reference to pro-life leaders and groups. SIGNIFICANCE: Words matter. As a pro-lifer, I don’t think we should ever refer to ourselves as “anti-abortion.” That phrase is a phrase from the Left, why use their language?
- President Trump refused to say if an unborn baby has constitutional rights. Then he said an unborn baby only has constitutional rights when they “don’t have exceptions.” When asked a third time, Trump said he didn’t know what Pence was saying by stating an unborn baby should have constitutional rights. SIGNIFICANCE: This issue requires clarity. No matter where you fall on it, I believe stating answers directly helps. This wasn’t a clear or a direct answer. I’ve watched this portion a handful of times and still don’t know the answer.
- President Trump championed exceptions to the right to life for babies conceived in rape or incest or when the mom’s life is in danger. “You have to have exceptions,” Trump said. SIGNIFICANCE: How are these “exceptions” handled in practice? Does the rape/incest exception require a police report to be filed? What determines if a woman’s life is “in danger?” Broad exceptions could easily render any abortion ban meaningless.
- President Trump views himself as a “mediator” on the issue. He predicted something will happen that would allow both sides to come together. SIGNIFICANCE: Again, both sides aren’t coming together on this — that just isn’t reality. And as President, he’s the leader, not a mediator. I get it, but it isn’t going to work how he thinks it will work. We’re not talking about a business deal, we’re talking about the foundational, fundamental right to life for an unborn baby.
- President Trump criticized Republicans who speak “very inarticulately” about the subject. He noted in certain parts of the country, you cannot win on the issue unless you come up with the right number of weeks. SIGNIFICANCE: Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? Sure, Trump did a good job going back to the fact the Democrats are the “radical” ones on this issue, but he wasn’t as clear as he could have or should have been on some of these questions. And he called the Heartbeat Bill a “terrible thing” and a “terrible mistake.” I don’t think Trump himself was as articulate as he’d like us to think he was on this issue in this interview.
So, pro-life Iowans and Americans, what do you make of that?
On one hand, Trump is the President who is largely responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. He was the first sitting President to address the National March for Life. A case could be made Trump was the most pro-life President ever.
On the other hand, what if it was Mitt Romney who said those things? What if Chris Christie called the Heartbeat Bill a “terrible mistake?”
Undoubtedly many of us would criticize Romney and Christie for saying such things.
So what do we make of this then?
Is Trump right in some of his more moderate points on the issue? Yes. Politically a hardline approach to not allowing the intentional killing of unborn babies may well cost us votes. It may well cost us an election.
Should we instead compromise and allow the intentional killing of unborn babies in exchange for four years of a presidency?
I’m not going to answer that question for you — that’s your job.
A couple of months ago I wrote that the only person capable of beating Trump for the nomination was Trump. I wrote the only way he could lose is through unforced errors.
This is one example of how Trump will lose the nomination if he does.
That isn’t to say I believe he will lose the nomination. I would still bet he will be the nominee.
But things like this make it extremely difficult to justify supporting him on a policy basis.
The reality is Trump said what he said and it forced these reactions from extremely conservative pro-lifers:
“Laws protecting the unborn are not a ‘terrible mistake.’ They are the hallmark of a just and moral society. Governors who protect life should be applauded, not attacked.” – Kristen Waggoner, CEO & President of Alliance Defending Freedom
“Pathetic and unacceptable. Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe’s overturning. Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies. But Trump wants to compromise on babies’ lives so pro-abort Dems ‘like him.’ Trump should not be the GOP nominee.” – Lila Rose, President & Founder of Live Action.
“Trump, after everything the Left has done to him, still thinks that if he gives them a little baby murder they’ll like him. This isn’t just evil, it is absolutely delusional. He fundamentally doesn’t get it.” – Allie Beth Stuckey
“Huh, that’s odd. I remember being in the crowd when Trump spoke at the March for Life. I commended the President for an amazing speech. He said: ‘We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve. The dreams they will imagine. The masterpieces they will create. The discoveries they will make. But we know this: every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting.’ His positions are incompatible and unacceptable.” – Nicholas Sandmann
Again, Trump’s political calculation on the issue may be exactly correct. The question for each pro-life voter is, are they deciding on who to vote for based on political calculations and personality or policy?
This segment of this interview presents Trump supporters with a conundrum that was 100 percent brought on by Trump himself and totally unnecessary.
If I were to say a good thing about it, I would say that at least Trump is being honest about his position on the issue and isn’t just attempting to tickle the ears of evangelicals with what they want to hear.
But that’s about the only good thing I can think of regarding this portion of the interview. What do YOU think? Let us know by sending a letter to the editor to [email protected].