Trump won't denounce states if they punish women for getting abortions - TAI News
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Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

In a pair of wide-ranging interviews published by Time magazine on April 30, former President Donald Trump repeatedly dodged or refused to answer questions about his position on abortion rights.

Asked by Time reporter Eric Cortellessa, “Are you comfortable if states decide to punish women who access abortions after the procedure is banned?”, Trump responded: “I don’t have to be comfortable or uncomfortable. The states are going to make that decision. The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me.”

While campaigning for president in 2016, Trump said women should face “some form of punishment” for having an abortion. 

Trump, who said he supported a national abortion ban as recently as 2018, now says he believes abortion rights are up to the states to decide.

However, Trump wouldn’t commit to vetoing a national abortion ban, saying the question is moot because a national ban wouldn’t pass the Senate. The House last passed legislation that would have imposed a national abortion ban in 2017, but the Senate blocked its passage. Trump supported the House bill and said it was disappointing that the Senate blocked it. 

“I won’t have to commit to it because it’ll never — number one, it’ll never happen,” Trump told Time. “Number two, it’s about states’ rights. You don’t want to go back into the federal government. This was all about getting out of the federal government.”

Cortellessa asked Trump whether he would sign a budget released by the Republican Study Committee, of which 80% of House Republicans are members, that calls for the passage of the Life at Conception Act. The bill would declare that life begins at the moment an egg is fertilized, designating fertilized eggs people with legal rights, which could result in women facing criminal penalties if they obtain abortions and could have an impact on access to fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.

Trump responded: “I’m leaving everything up to the states. The states are going to be different. Some will say yes. Some will say no. Texas is different than Ohio.”

He also refused to say whether he would support a ban on the abortion drug mifepristone. Anti-abortion groups are currently asking the federal courts to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug 24 years ago.

“Well, I have an opinion on that, but I’m not going to explain. I’m not gonna say it yet. But I have pretty strong views on that. And I’ll be releasing it probably over the next week,” Trump told Time. He hadn’t announced his position over two weeks after the interview was conducted.

And he didn’t say whether he would support the enforcement of the Comstock Act. Trump allies have crafted a hypothetical transition plan to be implemented if Trump wins the White House again that says he should enforce the Comstock Act, an 1873 law that bans the mailing of “obscene or crime-inciting matter.” Trump allies say the Comstock Act bans the mailing of abortion drugs; enforcement would make it hard or impossible for women to access the medications.

Abortion has been a key issue in elections since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the regulation of abortion to the states, paving the way for Republican-controlled state legislatures to implement or enforce abortion bans. 

“Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he tells on himself. This interview underscores what we know he will do if he returns to the White House,” Jenny Lawson, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, said in an email to the American Independent. “We know what a second Trump term will bring — more devastation and more bans taking away our ability to control our lives, bodies, and futures.”

A Fox News poll from March found that 59% of voters think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 58% opposing the six-week abortion bans state legislatures have passed and begun enforcing since the Supreme Court’s ruling.

President Joe Biden’s campaign said Trump’s comments on abortion make clear the stakes of the 2024 election for reproductive rights.

“November’s election will determine whether women in the United States have reproductive freedom, or whether Trump’s new government will continue its assault to control women’s health care decisions,” Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement.

Rebekah Sager contributed reporting for this story.

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