Trump says abortion law should be determined by states, declines to take position on federal limit

April 8, 2024

Former President Trump on Monday declined to take a position on a potential federal abortion ban and said the fate of the procedure should be left to individual states.

Trump, in a roughly four-minute video posted to Truth Social, once again said he was proud to have ended Roe v. Wade through the appointment of conservative Supreme Court justices, but did not endorse any kind of federal abortion legislation, which some conservative groups have pushed him to do.

“My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint,” Trump said. “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.” 

“Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks or some will have more conservative than others and that’s what they will be,” he added. “At the end of the day this is all about the will of the people. You must follow your heart, or in many cases your religion or your faith.”

The former president’s statement was his most comprehensive to date on the divisive issue of abortion since he became the presumptive Republican nominee. But it was still evasive on the issue of whether he would as president sign a federal law limiting abortion after a certain number of weeks.

In his statement, Trump referenced the importance of winning elections for Republicans. He had previously blamed the GOP’s rhetoric on abortion for the party’s struggles in the 2022 midterms.

“We have to bring our nation back from the brink, and that’s where it is,” he added. “Always go by your heart, but we must win. We have to win.”

Trump reiterated his support for exceptions allowing for the procedure in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk. And he said the GOP should support procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF), which has been threatened following the end of Roe, that make it easier for Americans to start a family.

And he called Democrats “radical” for supporting abortion “up to and even beyond the ninth month.” President Biden has said he does not support abortion “on demand,” but he has pushed to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade.

Democrats and Biden campaign officials argued Trump’s statement was both embracing the end of Roe and siding with states that have imposed severe limits on abortion.

Trump has over the past year repeatedly dodged questions when asked whether he would sign a national abortion ban if reelected, instead claiming he would find a solution to unite the country on an extremely divisive issue.

In recent weeks, he said there appeared to be consensus forming around a federal ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A February poll from The Economist/YouGov found 48 percent of respondents would support a national ban on abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy.

At the same time, Trump has repeatedly said he is responsible for terminating Roe v. Wade through his appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices. The court overturned the landmark decision in a June 2022 ruling that has radically altered the landscape on abortion.

In the nearly two years since, GOP-led states have enacted restrictions on the procedure and imposed penalties on doctors who perform it. In Florida, Trump’s home state, a court last week upheld a 15-week ban and allowed a ban after six weeks of pregnancy to go into effect after 30 days.

Trump last September called the six-week ban a “terrible mistake,” though he has not weighed in on the latest court decision.

Abortion has been a major motivator for Democratic voters in the nearly two years since the Supreme Court decision overturned the federal right to abortion access, and Biden and his campaign have used it as a rallying force heading into November’s general election match-up with Trump.

The Biden campaign has relentlessly warned voters that Trump would sign a national abortion ban and that his administration would restrict access to reproductive health care through agencies like the FDA.

Updated at 7:42 a.m.