Donald Trump, who has bragged about being the “most pro-life president in history,” now believes that he can convince voters that he’s actually a moderate on abortion rights.
Trump and his team are planning to run the former president as some kind of sensible centrist on the issue during the general election against President Joe Biden, Rolling Stone reported Sunday. The magazine cited multiple anonymous sources close to the Trump campaign, attesting to a plan he’d previously weighed pursuing as a middle path that might appease both Republicans and Democrats.
It would be something of a rapid—and perhaps ridiculous—change in direction, seeing as how Trump had previously touted his anti-abortion commitments. The decision to course-correct comes a little late in the game as well: Trump is currently running ads in Iowa that brand him with his self-bestowed label as “THE MOST Pro-Life President in history.”
It isn’t every day that Trump’s claims match the truth, but he legitimately argues that his anti-abortion bona fides set him apart from previous Republican presidents. One of Trump’s first acts in office was to reinstate and expand the global gag rule, which blocks foreign organizations that receive U.S. health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for abortion access. He also stripped Planned Parenthood of Title X funding, which makes up roughly half of the organization’s finances.
Naturally, his most celebrated acts against abortion rights were his nominations of three staunchly anti-abortion Supreme Court justices. Their appointments swung the high court firmly to the right and enabled the justices to eliminate the protections abortion seekers previously enjoyed under the court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
Trump remarked on Roe’s gutting in May, when he claimed personal responsibility for getting rid of the nationwide right to abortion. “I’m the one that got rid of Roe v. Wade,” he bragged on Newsmax.
He doubled down on that boast on Truth Social the following day, writing, “I was able to kill Roe v. Wade, much to the ‘shock’ of everyone, and for the first time put the Pro Life movement in a strong negotiating position.”
Unlike some of the other Republican candidates, Trump has yet to say whether he would back a national abortion ban. The former president has not been compelled to offer what he plans to do next in the reproductive rights arena. According to Rolling Stone, he has privately insinuated that major anti-abortion groups have no “leverage” to force him to adopt a stance on the issue until he is ready. It seems likely that Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee, as he currently enjoys a massive lead in the primary polls, even without the backing of anti-abortion organizations.
Just because Trump hasn’t announced that he has set his sights on an abortion ban doesn’t mean he thinks there shouldn’t be one. His actions in this regard speak louder than words, and throughout Trump’s career, he has taken positions out of the belief that they might confer an electoral advantage—only to renege on his promises when it counts.
As his current campaign is shaping up to be less about a vision of the future and more about meting out revenge on those Trump feels have wronged him, it would not be prudent to trust his coy promises about finding a moderate path on abortion rights.