Where Trump’s top VP contenders stand on abortion

June 25, 2024

Former President Trump has largely avoided specifics about his personal stance on abortion on the campaign trail, despite Democrats blaming him for appointing three of the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Trump has said the fate of abortion should be left to individual states and declined to take a stance on a potential federal abortion ban, which is being pushed by allies including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

He has criticized states with six-week abortion bans in the past and urged GOP candidates last year against taking a hard line on the issue, noting it is “very difficult to win elections” if they do so.

The members of Trump’s VP shortlist, however, have taken a harder line than the former president, either espousing beliefs or enacting laws that are unpopular among much of the electorate. Trump has said he will announce his running mate around the Republican National Convention in mid-July.

Here’s where the top three contenders for the job — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — stand on abortion.

Doug Burgum

As governor of North Dakota, Burgum signed one of the strictest abortion bills in the nation last year, banning abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. The law, which was overwhelmingly approved in the state Legislature, does not provide exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

During his long-shot bid for the GOP presidency last summer, Burgum, like Trump, said he supported the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, but that he would not sign a federal abortion ban if elected to the Oval Office. He has maintained that states should decide for themselves on their abortion policies.

“And what’s going to pass in North Dakota is not ever going to pass in California and New York and wouldn’t even pass in the state of Minnesota. I — that’s why I’m on the record saying that I would not sign a federal abortion ban,” Burgum said in July 2023 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Marco Rubio

Rubio, a veteran senator who ran in the GOP primary against Trump in the 2016 election, co-sponsored a bill with Graham that would ban abortions across the country after 15 weeks.

“I’ve always been pro-life,” Rubio told reporters in September 2022, explaining his support for the legislation. “You need to be asking Democrats what restrictions they support. … Democrats won’t vote for any restriction of any kind on abortion.”

When questioned by CBS News in August 2022 over whether he would favor a complete ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking, Rubio said he personally favored such a ban but realized that was a minority position. So he said he would vote for exceptions due to the political realities, and supported such a ban on a state level.

The Florida senator appeared to sidestep a question last month over whether he disagrees with Trump’s opposition to a national abortion ban.

“Well, he won’t sign one [a national abortion ban] because there’s no way we can pass it,” he told NBC News in May. “I’ve never claimed we have 60 votes in the Senate and votes in the House and everything else that goes in between.”

In the same interview, he appeared to dodge a follow-up question over his thoughts on Trump’s description of Florida’s six-week abortion ban as a “terrible thing, a terrible mistake.”

“Well, again, I am pro-life, so I support laws that save unborn human life. Other people have different opinions on what our law should be,” Rubio said. “That law that you’re referring to was passed by elected legislators in the state of Florida — House members that have to go back to their voters every two years, senators that have go to back every four years.”

JD Vance

Vance has been a steadfast supporter of abortion restrictions, while also backing some exceptions.

Vance last year called Ohio’s move to enshrine abortion rights last fall a “gut punch” for anti-abortion advocates like himself.

“For pro lifers, last night was a gut punch. No sugar coating it,” he wrote on social media last November. “We have to recognize how much voters mistrust us (elected Republicans) on this issue. Having an unplanned pregnancy is scary. Best case, you’re looking at social scorn and thousands of dollars of unexpected medical bills. We need people to see us as the pro-life party, not just the anti-abortion party.”

In 2022, Vance said he would support “some minimal national standard” for abortion restrictions, along with a proposal to limit abortion access after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

When asked on CBS News last month what he would like for a minimum national standard for abortion, Vance deferred to Trump’s belief the decision should be up to the states.

“I think that first of all, we have to acknowledge that political reality is, I think, really motivating a lot of these considerations. What Donald Trump has said, which is very consistent with what I said during my own campaign, is that the gross majority of abortion policy is going to be made at the state level,” he said.

“And I actually think if you compare his view of saying, ‘Look, this is a tough issue. We need to let people debate and decide this very tough issue in this new environment where it’s been kicked back to democratic legislators,'” he added.

“I am pro-life. I want to save as many babies as possible. And sure, I think it’s totally reasonable to say that late-term abortions should not happen with reasonable exception.”

Vance has offered mixed statements on how he feels about a federal abortion ban. In November of last year, he told CNN Republicans need to embrace federal legislation, including a 15-week ban with exceptions.

But the Ohio Republican has also pointed to what he calls the “political reality” surrounding the issue.

“Give people a choice between abortion restrictions very early in pregnancy with exceptions, or the pro-choice position, and the pro-life view has a fighting chance. Give people a heartbeat bill with no exceptions and it loses 65-35,” he wrote last November.