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Here’s Where Republican Presidential Candidates Stand On Pro-Life Policies After The GOP Debate

GOP primary candidates
Image CreditFDRLST/Canva

Many candidates’ promises to shield the unborn fell short of the national 15-week abortion ban that more than half of Americans want.


Every candidate who took to the GOP primary debate stage on Wednesday may have a political party in common but their views on policies to protect unborn life varied widely.

Fox News host and debate moderator Martha MacCallum kicked off the abortion portion of the Republican debate by asking candidates how they plan to market their pro-life positions to voters.

“Abortion has been a losing issue for Republicans since the Dobbs decision,” MacCallum falsely claimed. “In six state referendums, all have upheld abortion rights in this country. And even in red states, there are more swing state referendums that are coming up as we head into the elections.”

Despite her inaccurate framing of the abortion issue, most candidates spoke candidly about their support for pro-life policies. Many of their promises to shield the unborn, however, fell short of the national 15-week abortion ban that more than half of Americans want and pro-life organizations such as SBA Pro-Life America say they require from candidates who want their approval.

Here’s where all nine qualifying candidates stand on abortion after Wednesday night.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

DeSantis kicked off the abortion portion of the debate by condemning Democrats’ radical abortion-until-birth agenda but failed to commit to a federal abortion ban.

The Republican’s track record as a pro-life governor is indisputable. DeSantis’ most recent pro-life accomplishment was a heartbeat bill that effectively bars abortion beyond six weeks gestation and offers more resources for new parents.

DeSantis has repeatedly pledged that he’ll also be “a pro-life president.” In a recent interview with Megyn Kelly, however, DeSantis only offered to “be a leader with the bully pulpit to help local communities and states advance the cause of life” instead of signing a federal ban.

SBA Pro-Life America, one of the nation’s leading pro-life organizations, called DeSantis’ position in July “unacceptable.”

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy

Ramaswamy did not weigh in on abortion during the debate.

In previous comments, Ramaswamy said he is “unapologetically pro-life.” Yet, so far, he has refused to back a national abortion ban like the one most Americans support, with a campaign spokesman telling Time Magazine that “As a constitutional matter, he believes it’s an issue for the states and not the federal government.”

The billionaire later claimed he is “open-minded” towards a federal pro-life policy like the 15-week ban proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham but has not openly backed it.

Former Vice President Mike Pence

Pence advocated from his debate podium for a national restriction on abortions beyond 15 weeks gestation.

“Can’t we have a minimum standard in every state in the nation that says when a baby is capable of feeling pain, an abortion cannot be allowed? A 15-week ban is an idea whose time has come. It’s supported by 70 percent of the American people,” Pence said.

He also criticized his fellow candidates for failing to support a national ban.

In a recent address at Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual conference, Pence encouraged every GOP presidential candidate to join him to “support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard.”

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott

“We cannot let states like California, New York, and Illinois have abortions on demand up until the day of birth. That is immoral. It is unethical. It is wrong,” Scott declared from his spot on the debate stage. “We must have a president of the United States who will advocate and fight for, at the minimum, a 15-week limit.”

In April, Scott expressed hesitancy to sign a 15-week ban.

Shortly after the CBS interview, he clarified that he would sign a 20-week abortion ban.

By July, Scott said he was fully onboard with the proposed 15-week limit.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

Haley claimed from the debate stage to be “unapologetically pro-life” but repeated her belief that a federal abortion ban is “not realistic.”

“When it comes to a federal ban, let’s be honest with the American people and say it will take 60 Senate votes, It will take a majority of the House. So in order to do that, let’s find consensus,” Haley said. “Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions?”

She was chastised onstage by Pence who said “consensus is the opposite of leadership.”

Haley also recently condemned Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s decision to slow-walk congressional approval of military promotions in protest of the Department of Defense’s radical abortion agenda, which illegally uses taxpayer dollars to subsidize service members’ time off and travel to get abortions.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Christie remained relatively quiet about abortion law on Wednesday night. He previously stated that the federal government “should not be involved” in legislating on life “unless and until there’s a consensus around the country from the 50 states making their own decisions about what it should be.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Hutchinson signed an abortion ban into law in Arkansas while he was governor. Despite acknowledging that national pro-life legislation might face hurdles in Congress, he agreed to sign a federal abortion ban into law as president.

On the debate stage, Hutchinson confirmed his support for national abortion restrictions. He also corrected other candidates’ assertions that only states should legislate on unborn life.

“It’s most likely going to be addressed in the states, but it’s certainly fine for it to be addressed at the national level as well,” Hutchinson argued.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

Burgum said he’s a “pro-life governor of a very pro-life state” but, during the debate, stood by his previous assertion that “we should not have a federal abortion ban.”

Despite signing an abortion ban into law in his own state, Burgum has repeatedly claimed he will not support a federal abortion ban if he is elected to the White House.

“I think the decision that was made returning the power to the states was the right one. And I think we’re going to have — we have a lot of division on this issue in America. And what’s right for North Dakota may not be right for another state … the best decisions are made locally,” Burgum said in June.

Former President Donald Trump

Trump qualified for the debate but opted to spend his time in a sit-down interview with Tucker Carlson, who did not ask the Republican about his stance on unborn life.

The arguable peak of Trump’s first term was his effort to appoint pro-life justices and judges who went on to rule against abortion in several landmark cases.

More recently, however, Trump was scolded by pro-life organizations and his fellow candidates for criticizing heartbeat bills, misrepresenting the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs v. Jackson decision, and wrongfully blaming Republicans’ 2022 midterm losses on their unapologetically pro-life positions.

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