The Washington Post has a pretty useful summary of Donald Trump’s ever changing positions on abortion. They start it in April of 1989 but we all know that Trump was pro-choice back then and then later he said he became pro-life. I’m not concerned with a history lesson. I’m always a little hesitant to question anyone’s conversion to pro-life. But I’m much more interested in Trump’s wrestling with the issue of abortion since announcing his candidacy. The problem is he’s wrestling himself and…he’s losing.
June 28, 2015
Shortly after announcing his candidacy, Trump appeared on CNN in an interview with Jake Tapper. He got a little tripped up.
TAPPER: Let me ask you about a few social issues because they haven’t been issues you have been talking about for several years. I know you’re opposed to abortion.
TRUMP: Right. I’m pro-choice.
TAPPER: You’re pro-choice or pro-life?
TRUMP: I’m pro-life. I’m sorry.
March 30, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
The interview with Matthews is taped, and Trump asserts that women who receive abortions once the procedure is illegal will face punishment. The men are involved will not, he adds.
News of the comments quickly leaks.
March 30, 2016, 3:30 p.m.
Before the MSNBC town hall even airs, a spokesperson for Trump releases a statement changing what he told Matthews.
March 30, 2016, 5 p.m.
About an hour later, Trump’s campaign releases a more formal “statement regarding abortion.” It’s different than what he said to Matthews and his initial statement.
“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law,” the statement says, “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.” (It’s worth noting that this is in line with the pro-life movement’s position.)
The statement includes a snippet written in the first person: “My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.”
April 1, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
CBS releases an excerpt of its interview with Trump that aired Sunday morning. Asked again about abortion, Trump’s position seems to change yet again.
“The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed,” he said, according to CBS’s transcript. “I would’ve preferred states’ rights. I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set…. At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”
Understandably, this is not well-received. The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List replies that he had “disqualified himself as the GOP nominee” if this were his position.
Trump also offered a reason for his initial comments to Matthews: “I’ve been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on a, you know, basis of an older line from years ago on a very conservative basis.”
April 1, 2016, 9 p.m.
Again before the program airs, the Trump campaign re-frames what the candidate said.
“Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now — until he is president,” it read. “Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.”
This last part about the laws staying the same are the most disturbing. Look, Donald got into a little trouble with the abortion issue by saying women should face punishment and essentially he immediately discarded being pro-life altogether. He said that “we have to leave it that way” about the laws. Well, that’s not pro-life. That’s status quo. And the status quo is essentially abortion on demand.
That’s not good enough.