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‘We’ve Done Things Nobody Thought Were Possible’: Trump Touts Pro-Life Record while Skirting Abortion

June 11, 2024

Former President Donald Trump recently spoke virtually at a Christian conservative conference but received some criticism for failing to address the issue of abortion, a top priority for many evangelicals heading into November. On Monday, Trump appeared in a pre-recorded video message at the Danbury Institute’s Life and Liberty Forum, which took place during the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. “I want to thank each and every one of you for your tremendous devotion to God and to country — and your tremendous support of me,” Trump said to attendees. “And I hope I’ve earned it, because we’ve done things that nobody thought were possible to have gotten done.”

“These are difficult times for our nation and your work is so important, we can’t afford to have anyone sit on the sidelines. Now is the time for us to all pull together and to stand up for our values and for our freedoms,” Trump continued. “You just can’t vote Democrat — they’re against religion, they’re against your religion in particular. You cannot vote for Democrats, and you have to get out and vote. We have to defend religious liberty, free speech, innocent life, and the heritage and tradition that built America into the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

“But now, as you know, we are a declining nation,” the former president lamented. “And I might add, we are a seriously declining nation, seriously, seriously, and it’s so sad.” Trump told Christians at the Life and Liberty Forum that conservative Christian principles can “make a comeback like just about no other group,” adding, “I know what’s happening, I know where you’re coming from, and where you’re going. And I’ll be with you side by side.”

Trump also called on “religious leaders” to encourage their congregations to “get out and vote,” adding, “I know that each of you is protecting those values every day, and I hope we’ll be defending them side by side for your next four years. These are going to be your years…”

According to a report from Politico, attendees were disappointed that Trump didn’t address the issue of abortion. “He sounded more like a politician who wants to be elected,” Rick Patrick, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Sylacauga, Alabama, reportedly said. “I voted for him and I plan to vote for him again, but he was not like the other speakers who were here talking about religious things.” Kevin McClure, an attendee from a Baptist congregation in Louisville, reportedly commented, “It’s disappointing because you would hope to have a Republican presidential candidate who speaks strongly that life begins at conception.”

David Closson, director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council, spoke on a pro-life panel at the Life and Liberty Forum shortly before Trump’s video message was played. “Because the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, it was good to see President Trump to take time to address the hundreds of pastors who attended the Danbury Institute’s event. President Trump was right to note that these are difficult times for our nation,” Closson told The Washington Stand. He continued:

“I appreciated his admonition to pastors to stand up for our values and freedoms. In the weeks and months to come, my hope is that President Trump and his campaign continue to explain to the American people how extreme President Biden is on abortion. President Trump has a strong pro-life record to run on, and my hope is that he reminds people of these accomplishments as he spends time on the campaign trail.”

Mary Szoch, director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, told TWS, “President Trump was the most pro-life president in history.” She explained, “When he mentions that his administration did historic things that no one thought was possible, it is impossible not to think of the historic, life-saving Dobbs decision; the countless lives saved through the protecting life in global health assistance policy (more commonly known as the Mexico City policy); and the significant decrease of funding to abortion businesses.” She concluded, “We look forward to the Trump administration repeating what it did during President Trump’s first term — defending life to the fullest extent possible.”

Although Trump is credited with placing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who eventually overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, pro-life leaders expressed dissatisfaction with the former president’s announcement earlier this year that he does not plan to use the federal government to implement pro-life protections for the unborn. Instead, Trump said, abortion would be a “states’ issue.”

In an article for TWS last month, FRC President Tony Perkins wrote, “The times call for a new campaign for life, but instead, we see sign after sign of a retreat among our fellow Republicans on this defining issue.” He alluded to potential plans to remove the commitment to protecting the unborn from the GOP platform before continuing, “I want to be clear: The right to life transcends other political debates and the interests of any and all political parties and candidates. It is truly the right without which no other right has any meaning.”

Polling also demonstrates that pro-life protections matter to conservatives and Christians. A recent Pew Research Center study found that a majority (53%) of Republicans and voters who lean Republican strongly agreed that “[h]uman life begins at conception, so an embryo is a person with rights.” An additional 21% “somewhat” agreed with the statement. Another poll, released in April, discovered that abortion is one of the top three political concerns for American evangelicals, alongside immigration and national sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Democratic President Joe Biden and his administration have established abortion as a campaign centerpiece, attempting to portray Trump as extreme on the issue by attacking his pro-life record, regardless of his present stance on the issue. “Because of Donald Trump, millions of women lost the fundamental freedom to control their own bodies,” Biden claimed in a recent campaign ad blitz. “The question is — if Donald Trump gets back in power, what freedom will you lose next? Your body and your decision belong to you, not the government, not Donald Trump.” The Biden administration has also focused much of its law enforcement attention on prosecuting and imprisoning pro-life Americans.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.