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Don’t Argue with Donald Trump On Pro-Life Limits, Argue With Voters

Is our political litmus test literally going to be the candidate who will outlaw all abortion, everywhere, anytime?


Last year, the goal of every pro-life person I know was somehow, finally, realized. The terrible law Roe vs. Wade was finally overturned by the Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision. Finally, abortion and its shaky legal status under the “penumbra” of a right to privacy was returned to the people and their legislatures, both state and federal. Now, states could set their own abortion restrictions based on what their voters wanted. Our Sacred Democracy in action!

Abortion is, obviously, not strictly a state’s rights issue, but this was part of the pitch. It was a smart way to soften the overturning of Roe for people who were antsy about the potentially dire political implications. “Don’t worry — no one is going to ban abortion nationwide. All we want to do is give states the right to let their voters decide.”

Finally, in 2022, it paid off. The pro-life movement won. The marches, the protests, and the activism had finally worked! 

But … had it? Let’s be honest — Roe is gone mostly thanks to a guy named Donald Trump. President Trump is the one who gave pro-life Americans the victory we craved for many years. Thanks to Trump and his three Supreme Court picks, Roe was no more.

Newly liberated by President Trump, some red states went right to work regulating abortion. Texas passed the “heartbeat bill,” so no fetus past six weeks — that is, one with a heartbeat — can be aborted. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a heartbeat bill in April.

Other states passed their own restrictions. In some plot twists, red-state voters overturned these new restrictions. Even some “conservatives” weren’t quite ready to throw the baby out with the…. never mind. (News flash: there is no such thing as a red state anymore, only shades of pink).

So I was surprised this week when people on both sides of the issue jumped all over Trump when he condemned six-week abortion bans in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”:

‘I would sit down with both sides and I’d negotiate something and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years,’ Trump said in a recent interview on NBC, amid polling and down-ticket elections showing the GOP is losing ground because of backlash against the 2022 Dobbs ruling undoing Roe. The six-week abortion ban 2024 primary rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed is ‘a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,’ Trump added.

Is Trump saying that abortions at six weeks are good things? I don’t think so. The man has spoken eloquently about his disgust with the abortion industry. But he is pointing out an uncomfortable fact of American life in 2023: six-week abortion bans probably are a mistake, politically, in most places. 

How dare I say this as a pro-life Catholic? Well, because it’s true. Wishing things weren’t the way they are will not change anyone’s mind. We’ve been doing that for 60 years and the abortion rate has kept increasing. It’s even gone up since Roe was overturned.  

We are stuck in a terrible bind. The only way to make headway on abortion is to keep getting pro-life candidates elected, but they can’t get elected if they are “too extreme” on abortion. A conundrum!

In the interview, Trump also came out against a 15-week federal ban, which puts him on the same page as every other GOP candidate — except for bottom-tier guys like Pence and Scott, who hammered him for saying it. 

I’m confused. We pro-life radicals got what we always wanted, and then we decided it wasn’t good enough. Is our political litmus test literally going to be the candidate who will outlaw all abortion, everywhere, anytime? Is the Abortion Zero Candidate the only choice? 

Good luck trying to win back the White House on that platform, Mike Pence. 

Here is the stark truth: Trump, in his characteristically blunt way, was trying to explain that, look, we live in a center-left abortion country. Survey after survey reveals that most people do want restrictions on abortion, and only a small minority want to totally ban it after six weeks.

Sixty-three percent of women think abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Every age group also thinks it should be legal in most cases, too. Seventy-four percent of 18-29 year olds want it legal. Ninety-six percent of college graduates want abortion legal in most or all cases. Only 60 percent of people who identify as Republicans want abortion restricted.

I am in the tiny fringe minority who would like to see a day where abortion is consigned to the dustbin of history, along with other forms of child sacrifice. But since I am also a human who lives among other humans, I accept that we are never, ever going to see that day. 

All I hope for now is that we can move on from a political civil war over this issue. We got our big win! Now it’s up to us to do the hard part: changing hearts and minds. 

The truth is that ever since I disavowed my youthful, half-baked pro-choice views and became a full-blown pro-life Catholic, I recognized that there is, in the end, no political fix for this issue. Why do women get abortions? The reasons are endless and myriad.

Irresponsibility and poor life choices, the oldest reasons on Earth? Or simply the effect of growing up in the wreckage left by the feminist whirlwind, which tricked a lot of people (including me!) into believing that abortion is “just a clump of cells.” “It’s health care.” “It’s your choice.”

Our real victory will only be possible if more young women (and men!) get a chance to repair the damage that’s been done to their psyches in time to avert a catastrophic mistake. And this damage cannot be healed by any craft we here on Earth possess. 

The hard truth is that until the big meteor hits the planet, abortion will be an option available to many people. The only person who will be able to confidently choose life even in difficult situations is a woman with the courage to allow her innate, ancient instincts to overpower all our grubby, petty political squabbling.

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