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HomeNewsHow Donald Trump’s Abortion Stances Have Shifted Over the Years

How Donald Trump’s Abortion Stances Have Shifted Over the Years

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Donald Trump revealed that he would not sign a federal abortion ban if elected to the White House again, marking the former president’s latest evolution on the issue. Throughout his lengthy career in the public eye and politics, going back 25 years, Trump has found himself on every side of the contentious debate. 

Donald Trump
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Sometimes, he shifts stances seemingly to match the politics of the voters he is trying to win over. While publicly exploring a presidential campaign leading up to the 2000 election, Trump told the Press, “I’m very pro-choice,” suggesting his views were shaped by New York’s liberal politics. 

Trump Stance From 1999

“I hate the concept of abortion,” he said. “But still, I just believe in choice.” His 1999 remarks would become a focal point of attacks from his 2016 GOP rivals as Trump sought the party’s nomination for president, this time for real. Asked about them at a 2015 debate, Trump said he had “evolved.”

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Donald Trump
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Trump reportedly signed a letter to anti-abortion leaders in September 2016. “I am committing to enacting legislation that would have criminalized abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy,” he said. “Exceptions, for instance, in which the life of the mother is at risk and cases involving rape or incest.”

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The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed the House but did not advance in the Senate.

Another Perspective From Trump About Abortion

During a debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump pledged to remake the US Supreme Court with nominees who looked unfavorably on abortion. “The justices that I am going to appoint will be pro-life; they will have a conservative bent,” he said.

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Donald Trump
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Furthermore, later in the debate, Trump predicted his nominees would help end Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that had guided American abortion policy for decades. By then, Trump had released a list of potential nominees he would consider to fill Supreme Court vacancies. “Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen.” 

“That will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court,” Trump said. “I will say this: it will go back to the states, and the states will then decide.”

What Was Trump’s First Act as President?

In one of his first acts as president, Trump signed a memorandum blocking the United States from funding organizations that provide abortion services, including counseling. Four months later, Trump signed a bill allowing states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion, reversing an Obama-era regulation.

POLL—Should Abortion Be Legal in Most Cases?

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Trump dancing
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Uncharacteristically, Trump signed the legislation into law behind closed doors and away from television cameras.

Trump’s Conflicting Abortion Stance 

With his reelection campaign underway, Trump became the first sitting president to attend the March for Life rally, an annual anti-abortion protest in Washington. Speaking to a crowd gathered on the National Mall, Trump delivered his most striking and emphatic defense of his anti-abortion agenda, articulating a deep and unapologetic opposition in no uncertain terms. 

Trump at an outing looking at the camera
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Repeatedly evoking Christianity, he reiterated a pledge to “veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policies or that encourages the destruction of human life.” “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” he said. “And as the Bible tells us, each person is ‘wonderfully made.’”

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Trump’s Recent Support for Abortion 

To the confusion and frustration of some within his campaign, Trump more recently had flirted with supporting a federal abortion ban at 15 weeks. During a recent radio appearance, Trump said without evidence that “people are agreeing on 15, and I’m thinking in terms of that, and it’ll come out to something very reasonable.”

Trump waving
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Several Trump confidants, including former adviser Kellyanne Conway and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, reportedly lobbied the former president to support a federal abortion ban. Trump said he would not sign a national abortion ban if elected president, reversing a promise he made as a candidate in 2016 and one that he had stood by during his first term in the White House.

While appearing on a tarmac in Atlanta earlier this year, Trump was asked by a reporter if he would sign a national abortion ban if it passed Congress. “No,” the former president said, shaking his head.

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