People For the American Way

“Trumptastrophe”: Trump’s desperate attempts to sidestep his anti-abortion extremism.

News and Analysis
“Trumptastrophe”: Trump’s desperate attempts to sidestep his anti-abortion extremism.
Donald Trump speaks after the New York primary in 2016 at Trump Tower.

Welcome to our weekly “Trumptastrophe” series that serves to remind us of the destructive policies, decisions, and actions we encountered during the Trump presidency and the threats that he and others in the MAGA movement still pose – and to keep those moments clear in our memory as we fight to defeat Republican extremists during the upcoming elections.

This week’s Trumptastrophe brings into focus Trump’s desperate attempts to have it both ways when it comes to his opposition to abortion. During his first term he fought ruthlessly to restrict reproductive freedom and until very recently, advocated for a nationwide ban on abortion. Now, as he and other Republicans realize it’s a losing issue for them – and one that motivates voters to cast their ballots against them – they have backed away (at least publicly) from supporting a nationwide ban. But Trump and his fellow Republicans have proven time and again that they cannot be trusted. We will remember their anti-abortion extremism, no matter how much they try to hide from it:

On April 13, 2017, Trump signed legislation meant to defund Planned Parenthood, a key goal of the religious ultraconservative voters that helped put Trump into the White House. The law overturned an Obama administration rule that state and local governments could not withhold federal health care funds from qualified providers just because those organizations also provide abortions.

As The New York Times noted at the time, “Mr. Trump has made restricting abortions a priority during his early days in office. Days after being sworn in, he signed an executive order reinstating the so-called Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, which blocks United States funding from going to any nongovernmental organization around the world that provides abortion counseling, even if the money is not used for abortion-related services.”

Indeed, that was just one small part of the Trump administration’s intensely anti-choice record, which included his nomination of anti-choice Supreme Court justices and federal judges, his support for a bill banning abortion nationally after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and his essentially turning the Department of Health and Human Services into an enforcement arm of the religious right.

It’s important to recall Trump’s relentless actions to restrict access to abortion and birth control during his first term in office, because right now he’s trying to muddy the waters.

Trump wants credit from the religious right for overturning Roe v. Wade, because he needs their help to get back in power. But he also knows that most Americans did not support Roe v. Wade being overturned, and most voters oppose abortion bans, so he now says that he is against a national abortion ban.

In a video posted on Trump’s social media platform April 8, Trump tried to have it both ways. He bragged about nominating the Supreme Court justices who cemented a right-wing majority on the court and doomed Roe v. Wade, something he has repeatedly taken credit for. But he declared that it is up to the “hearts, minds, and vote of the people of each state,” whom he urged to “do the right thing.”

The day after Trump released his video trumpeting abortion as a states’ rights issue, the right-wing Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a Civil War-era law criminalizing all abortions unless necessary to save a woman’s life is in effect now that Roe v. Wade is gone. In other words, a day after Trump promoted a states’ rights position on abortion to try to distance himself from abortion bans, a state adopted an extreme ban that could land doctors or providers of abortion medication in jail for five years.

Some anti-abortion leaders—whose goal is absolutely to criminalize abortion nationwide—criticized Trump’s newly announced opposition to a federal ban. But most vowed to keep working to return him to power, convinced that he would do their bidding when he no longer had to worry about voters. “Pro-life voters have only one option in November,” declared the right-wing CatholicVote. Students for Life’s Kristan Hawkins, who is “100% for national pro-life law,” said on a social media thread that “Trump made the right call—and this leaves room for better action to be taken down the road.”

Trump’s track record gives them reason to be confident. So does Project 2025, the far-right plan to “take the reins of government” after a Trump victory; the Project 2025 agenda calls for the federal government to protect fertilized eggs from the moment of conception and demands criminal action against the distributors of abortion medication.

Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose pointed out that Trump’s position is counter to the current Republican Party platform, which states, “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.” That is not a fringe position within the anti-abortion movement, but it is wildly out of line with most Americans’ belief that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.

Arizona MAGA Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake is now in the same boat as Trump. When she was running for governor in 2022, she forcefully praised the Arizona ban that the state Supreme Court just affirmed. She called it a “great law.” But now, Lake is attempting a 180-degree turn, saying she opposes the same law she praised in her last campaign. She’s no doubt sweating the fact that Arizona for Abortion Access said this month it has gathered enough signatures to have voters decide this fall whether to protect the right to an abortion in the state constitution as voters have done elsewhere.

Try as she might to hide or scurry away from it, Lake’s anti-abortion extremism is absolutely clear, and she shouldn’t be able to hide that reality from voters. The same is true for Trump.

These are just some of the reasons we need YOU in this fight. So, find your favorite way to unwind after reading through this week’s recap, and then make a plan for how you will fight back this week, this month, this election cycle.


Abortion, Donald Trump, reproductive rights, Trumptastrophe