". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Pro-Life Leaders React to Trump’s Abortion Statement: ‘Rebuild America’s Spiritual Walls’

April 9, 2024

Pro-family leaders reacted to President Donald Trump’s announcement that abortion policy should be handled exclusively by the states by saying that “pro-life policies should be pursued at every level of government” to rebuild “the spiritual walls of our nation.” Although pro-life advocates expressed gratitude for the president’s role in overturning Roe v. Wade and restoring voters’ democratic control over the issue of abortion, they say his “work is not over” when it comes to protecting innocent life. 

The 45th president delivered on a promise he made last week to present his position on abortion in a four-minute-long video posted on social media Monday morning. The president said abortion should be handled at the state level, endorsed exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape and incest, and strongly supported in vitro fertilization (IVF). “Democrats are the radical ones” on abortion, by endorsing abortion, for any reason, until the moment of birth, he said.

“The states will determine by vote or legislation — or perhaps both — and whatever they decide must be the law of the land,” said Trump. “Many states will be different, many will have a different number of weeks, or some will have more conservative [respect for life] than others.”

“I was proudly the person responsible for the ending” of Roe, he said. But the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision “took [the issue of abortion] out of the federal hands and brought it into the hearts, minds, and vote of the people in each state,” he stated. “Now it’s up to the states to do the right thing.”

Trump thanked the six justices who voted for the Dobbs decision by name — Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — for allowing “this long-term, hard-fought battle to finally end.” Trump nominated three of those jurists to the nation’s highest court, including Justice Barrett, whom the Senate confirmed just seven days before the 2020 election.

But justices on both sides of the 2022 Dobbs ruling agreed the federal government can play a role in setting abortion policy. “On the question of abortion, the Constitution … leaves the issue for the people and their elected representatives to resolve through the democratic process in the [s]tates or Congress — like the numerous other difficult questions of American social and economic policy that the Constitution does not address,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his concurrence to Dobbs.

In their dissent, liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan agreed Dobbs gives voters absolute freedom of choice to set abortion policy nationwide. “Most threatening of all,” they wrote, “no language in today’s decision stops the [f]ederal [g]overnment from prohibiting abortions nationwide, once again from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest.”

After Trump’s statement, pro-life leaders urged the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential candidate to use the full authority his judicial policy successes had won to pass pro-life protections in his second term. “Former President Trump has played a vital role in bringing our nation to this pivotal point of being able to restore the fundamental right to life in America,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in a statement released first to The Washington Stand. “I applaud President Trump for the work he has done, but that work is not over.”

“As voters continue to elect pro-life legislators at both the state and federal levels, pro-life policies should be pursued at every level of government until every child, born and unborn, is welcomed into this nation and protected under our laws, federal and state,” Perkins continued. “The effort to protect innocent life is crucial as we work toward a day when we will once again see the spiritual walls of our nation stand high and secure.”

President Trump on Monday continued to highlight that “Democrats are the radical ones on this [abortion] position, because they support abortion up to and even beyond the ninth month,” and “even execution after birth.” Trump likely referred to former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D), who declared in 2019, “I can tell you exactly what would happen” if a child is born alive during a botched abortion: “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Similarly, in 2013, Alisa LaPolt Snow, a lobbyist for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, told the Florida legislature the decision about whether to save a baby born alive during a botched abortion “should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.” Philadelphia abortionist and mass murderer Kermit Gosnell made the infanticide of newborn premature babies his regular “abortion” procedure.

Perkins said defunding abortion and ending the federal government’s role in facilitating abortion would win Trump voters, as it already enjoys broad support. “The legal authority to protect this fundamental right to life has not only been restored to the states but also to policymakers at the federal level, where broad support exists to not force taxpayers to pay for abortion. The federal government should not be funding the facilitation of abortion in any form or fashion — at home or abroad,” said Perkins.

The Democratic Party platform calls for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand for any reason a matter of “health, rights, and justice.” But polling data show the national consensus diverges sharply from prevailing liberal orthodoxy. As this author has noted:

  • 67% of Americans oppose funding abortion overseas, according to a 2024 KofC/Marist poll;
  • 66% say people with religious objections should not be legally required to carry out abortions;
  • 58% of the American people believe abortion should not be legal past the first trimester, except for rape or incest;
  • 61% of Americans oppose sending abortion-inducing pills through the mail;
  • 53% of Americans oppose funding abortion in the United States;
  • 55% said employers with religious objections should not be forced to pay for abortion coverage in their employees’ insurance in a 2023 Marist poll; and
  • 55% of all Americans support laws protecting a child from his or her first fetal heartbeat in a 2019 Hill-HarrisX survey.

Additionally, “a clear majority (59%) of voters say they would support Congressional legislation that would prohibit abortions after a baby can feel pain at fifteen weeks of pregnancy,” with exceptions for rape and incest, a poll from last June found. That majority would allow states “to pass even more protective laws.”

On the other hand, polls consistently show a minority supports the right to an abortion for any reason, at any time: just over one in four Americans (29%) in the most recent Marist poll. Only 9% of young people belonging to the Millennials and Gen Z “supported the Democratic Party’s radical agenda of abortion through all 9 months without limits,” according to a poll conducted for Students for Life of America.

Nonetheless, Democrats plan to nationalize the issue of abortion, endorsing a national abortion approval bill and taxpayer subsidies for abortionists. Biden has centered his reelection campaign around a promise to strike down pro-life protections nationwide. The legislation he endorses, the Women’s Health Protection Act, goes much further than the abortion regime foisted on America by Roe, Doe v. Bolton (1973), and Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992) — erasing more than 1,300 laws passed while Roe, Doe, and Casey remained binding legal precedent.

“Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats who are working relentlessly to enact legislation mandating abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. If successful, they will wipe out states’ rights,” warned Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement emailed to The Washington Stand. “Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections,” she added, saying she was “disappointed in President Trump’s position.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, agreed the next president must use the power available to advance the right to life. “There remains an urgent need to advocate for the unborn at the federal level, which is one of the reasons we continue to march annually in our nation’s capital even after the Dobbs decision. Pro-abortion politicians relentlessly work to enact federal legislation like the deceptively titled Women’s Health Protection Act, which would cancel every states’ ability to limit abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and erases existing pro-life protections for vulnerable women and children nationwide,” said Mancini in a statement emailed to TWS.

After rejecting Roe’s sweeping, top-down abortion policy, voluntarily adopting an anything-goes abortion policy would make the United States a global outlier, pro-life leaders noted. “The overwhelming majority of European nations reject such barbaric policies with minimum protections for children after the first trimester. We as a nation need to work toward federal minimum protections for the unborn, and advocate for policies that support pregnant women and families in need,” Mancini told TWS.

Trump’s video statement also generated controversy for endorsing exceptions for the one percent of abortions due to rape and incest, respectively. “I am strongly in favor of exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother” — a position he has long held, and which he has consistently noted polls well. “We have an obligation to the salvation of our Nation, which is currently in serious decline, to win elections, without which we will have nothing other than failure, death, and destruction,” Trump posted on Truth Social Sunday evening. (Emphasis in original.)

“There’s no ‘salvation of our Nation’ while we are permitting killing children,” replied Lila Rose, founder of Live Action. “This includes helpless children conceived in rape.” Ryan Bomberger, the founder of the Radiance Foundation, who was conceived in rape, asked whether “lives with origin stories like mine should die to Make America Great Again.”

“Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections,” said Dannenfelser, saying she was “disappointed in President Trump’s position.”

Seeming to anticipate their reactions, President Trump said Monday, “You must follow your heart on this issue — but remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture” and “save our country,” which three years of Democratic rule has placed “at the brink.”

Perkins agreed with the president’s diagnosis that America teeters on the knife’s edge of catastrophe, which requires America to be rooted on a solid rock of abiding values. “To restore our nation to a place of political greatness, we must first restore our moral goodness, and foundational to that is the respect for and protection of all human life. After 50 years of spiritual, cultural, and political engagement, we thankfully reached a point where Roe v. Wade was sent to the dustbin of history, but the effort to restore the inalienable right to life is far from over as we continue working to protect children from the moment of conception,” he said.

“Always follow your heart. But we must win,” Trump said. “We are a failing nation, but we can be a failing nation no longer. We will make our nation great. We will make our nation greater than ever before.”

Trump also voiced strong support for in vitro fertilization. “We want to make it easier for mothers and families to have babies, not harder. That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every state in America,” the president said, stating his view is supported by “the vast majority of Republicans, conservatives, Christians, and pro-life Americans.”

Democrats injected IVF into the national discourse to attack the Dobbs decision. Despite President Joe Biden’s false assertion during the State of the Union address that “the Alabama Supreme Court shut down IVF treatments,” the ruling had nothing to do with IVF’s legal status. Yet IVF presents deep moral concerns for those who believe life begins at conception. Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, has noted that “93% of the embryos created through IVF never result in a live birth.” Sometimes, the doctor implants multiple embryos and then selectively aborts less robust fetuses. Millions more remain frozen, often abandoned — or later destroyed — by their parents.

“We clearly have some work to do to educate the GOP on the lawlessness of a predatory IVF industry, whose own sloppiness has caused the painful headlines we all have seen,” said Kristen Hawkins of Students for Life of America in a statement emailed to TWS. “It’s an industry in need of regulation.” Others contrasted Trump’s states’ rights view of abortion with his commitment to “supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every state in America.” Fox News Digital Editor Ken Shepherd pointed out that former President Trump “seems to be saying abortion is a matter for the states, but his language on IVF regulation seems to suggest every state should protect IVF as a right. This seems a bit incongruent.” (Emphasis in original.)

Yet pro-life leaders took heart at the palpable difference in focus between the two parties’ presumptive presidential candidates. “Unlike President Biden, President Trump begins his remarks on abortion celebrating ‘the ultimate joy in life’ – children and family,” said Hawkins. While pro-life advocates “clearly have some work to do to educate the Trump administration” on federal pro-life protections, sharing “the mutual goals of supporting families and welcoming young children” proves that “we can work together to restore the culture of life stripped away by the national Democratic Party and their leadership.”

“Fighting against that kind of abortion extremism is a reason to vote for Donald Trump,” Hawkins told TWS. Dannensfelser also promised SBA Pro-Life America will “work tirelessly to defeat President Biden and extreme congressional Democrats” in November.

Talk show host Steve Deace questioned the political viability of Trump’s abortion stance. “Is there truly a constituency of people who vote on this issue who will find this reasonable?” he said. “[I]f you’re voting on abortion you feel strongly about it, one way or the other. And if you have anything close to the position Trump has, you’re not even voting on that issue, so it doesn’t matter.”

But Perkins believes President Trump “is going to continue to pursue a pro-life policy” once elected, based on the counsel of his advisors and the political calculus of the Republican Party.

“I saw today’s statement with a comma behind it, not a period,” Perkins told “Greg Kelly Reports” on Newsmax Monday evening. “I’ve had conversations leading up to this with the former president. If Congress were to reach a consensus on a piece of legislation and send it to his desk, I have no doubt he would sign it.”

“His record is very clear; he’s the most pro-life president that we’ve had,” Perkins concluded.

Pro-life leaders hope a second Trump presidency will live up to his words Monday morning: “The Republican Party should always be on the side of the miracle of life — on the side of mothers, fathers, and their beautiful babies.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.