On Air Now

Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates
1:00pm - 4:00pm

DuBois Weather

Trumps abortion position leaves key questions unanswered on major campaign issue

SHARE NOW

(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump on Monday celebrated his role in ending national guarantees to abortion access and indicated that he believes the issue, which political experts of both parties believe could be influential in the 2024 race, should now remain in the hands of individual states.

Trump had long been teasing on the trail that he would make an announcement about abortion as he seeks another term in the White House.

But Monday’s position did not address some of the key questions that have come to define the debate over abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overruled by the Supreme Court in 2022. Trump’s campaign did not respond to follow-up questions from ABC News.

In his video statement on Monday, Trump did not say if he personally favors a certain number of weeks into pregnancy at which state-level bans should take effect, though he has publicly criticized a six-week ban in Florida and, more recently, talked privately about the idea of a national 16-week ban with exceptions, sources told ABC News in February.

On Monday, Trump also did not say how he will vote on an upcoming ballot measure in his home state of Florida which would broaden abortion access there.

And though Trump specifically criticized that abortion policy had been decided at the federal level under Roe, he did not say in his statement what he would do as president if a nationwide ban passes Congress and makes it to his desk to be signed into law, as some other Republicans have urged.

“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,” Trump said in his statement.

“Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks [for their ban] or some will have more conservative than others, and that’s what they will be,” he said.

“At the end of the day, this is all about the will of the people,” he continued. “You must follow your heart or in many cases, your religion or your faith. Do what’s right for your family and do what’s right for yourself. Do what’s right for your children, do what’s right for our country and vote. So important to vote. At the end of the day, it’s all about the will of the people.”

Trump did not address his views on abortion medication, the use of which is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court by a group of anti-abortion doctors.

He did, however, specifically note his support for in vitro fertilization, which had been temporarily thrown into limbo in Alabama after the state Supreme Court ruled in February that stored embryos through IVF are children under the law.

Trump also reiterated his support for three exceptions to abortion bans — in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the pregnant woman — but was not more specific on how those exceptions should be implemented.

As ABC News has reported, even in states like Mississippi that provide narrow carve-outs to their bans, including for rape, confusion persists among those seeking abortions while doctors have trouble navigating the new laws.

In Texas, which has exceptions to its six-week abortion ban for medical emergencies and fatal fetal diagnoses, a woman sued late last year for an emergency abortion after she said her fetus was diagnosed with a severe anomaly that has a very high likelihood of miscarriage or stillbirth and low survival rates.

But the state’s Supreme Court ruled that “[s]ome difficulties in pregnancy, however, even serious ones, do not pose the heightened risks to the mother the exception encompasses.”

Such a determination requires a doctor and Cox’s physician didn’t attest to that, the court found.

Trump, in his statement on Monday, suggested that his views on abortion were tied to political concerns — something he has said before while boasting that he could find an electorally viable compromise. (“I think both sides are going to like me,” he said in September.)

Exit polling previously found that the issue of abortion access was a driving factor for some voters in key battlegrounds like Michigan in 2022 and voters across the country, in red and blue states, have uniformly backed abortion access in various ballot measures over the last two years.

“You must follow your heart on this issue. But remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture and, in fact, to save our country, which is currently and very sadly a nation in decline,” Trump said in his statement.

He attacked Democrats whom, he said, “are the radical ones on this position” for typically backing much broader abortion access.

One of the leading anti-abortion rights groups in the country soon said it was “deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position.”

“Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections and national advocacy from the brutality of the abortion industry. … Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats,” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement to ABC News.

Trump’s rival Joe Biden likewise slammed his latest abortion comments.

“Let there be no illusion. If Donald Trump is elected and the MAGA Republicans in Congress put a national abortion ban on the Resolute Desk, Trump will sign it into law,” President Biden argued in a statement issued by his reelection campaign.

Biden noted how Trump continues to tout his role in the end of Roe, through naming three Supreme Court justices who voted to overrule it.

But Biden claimed Trump is now “scrambling” to shore up support by being ambiguous on his true stance.

“He’s worried that since he’s the one responsible for overturning Roe the voters will hold him accountable in 2024,” Biden said. “Well, I have news for Donald. They will.”

ABC News’ Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Libby Cathey, Nadine El-Bawab, Fritz Farrow, Mary Kekatos and Rachel Scott contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.