Trump’s off the cuff comments on abortion this week show his lack of readiness for office, but also reflect GOP thinking on the issue.
Donald Trump’s quadruple flip-flop on abortion this week started with the notion of the procedure as criminal, and women as criminal actors to be punished. It ended with an acknowledgment that the law is the law. To be so utterly unprepared on such a vital issue, and to lack real policies and positions on this (and many other vital issues) is an affront to the office of the Presidency. “Make America Great Again” never rang more hollow. And even though the “punishment” position was walked back, and loudly disavowed by pro-lifers, the GOP and fellow GOP candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich, it hues more closely to the real position of the GOP than they probably want to admit, where a majority of the U.S. populace believe that it should be accessible.
HB2 in Texas (argued before the Supreme Court on March 2) as well as many other anti-abortion laws disguised as “women’s health and safety” laws continue to spring up in Red states, fueled by anti-abortion groups that draft the legislation. They’re the latest in a long line of incrementalist challenges to Roe v. Wade, which have the intent of chipping away at access to abortion – by requiring ultrasounds, pamphlets, consent, waiting periods, and now, ambulatory-level clinic standards, termed measures to protect women’s health, which have not shown to make the procedure any more safe, are certainly not required where the abortion is induced by medication, and have the (desired) effect of shutting down clinics where the procedure is performed, but also where other reproductive health services are offered, particularly to low-income women.
The punishment position, taken to its logical conclusion, is that any abortion is murder, and any act by a woman, intentionally or otherwise, while pregnant, that harms or potentially harms an embryo or fetus, is a crime. This view has a name, and a movement. ”Personhood Amendments” to State Constitutions (that have gone onto the ballot, and failed, in Colorado, Mississippi, Florida, and elsewhere), seek to give constitutional protections, like the right to life recognized in the Fourteenth Amendment, from the moment of conception, and to therefore circumvent the rights of women recognized in Roe. And the notion that it’s out of the mainstream of GOP thinking is pure fallacy. Paul Ryan advocated for this position in the 2012 General Election cycle, and it was a part of the GOP’s anti-abortion plank.
The left is painted as callous and godless for siding with a woman’s right to choose. But we reject government intervention into this most personal of choices. We understand that having control over reproductive health is fundamental to full and meaningful economic participation in society. And we see these incrementalist measures for what they really are. Punishing a woman for the most agonizing of choices, a choice that is for now, and hopefully for always, Constitutionally protected.