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Donald Trump’s New Stance on Abortion Has Some Anti-Abortion Activists Furious

“Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats,” one anti-abortion leader said.

Anti-abortion leaders are livid with Donald Trump’s newest official stance on abortion after weeks of simmering frustration over the former president’s shifting public positions.

After floating a national 15- or 16-week abortion ban, which didn’t go far enough for many in the anti-abortion movement, Trump on Monday said abortion policy post-Roe should be left to the states.

“States will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land; in this case, the law of the state,” Trump — who did not endorse a specific limit — said in a video posted on Truth Social. “Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks, or some will have more conservative than others, and that’s what they will be.”

Quickly after the video was posted, the leading anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said the organization was “deeply disappointed” in Trump’s position.

“The Dobbs decision clearly allows both states and Congress to act,” said SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats who are working relentlessly to enact legislation mandating abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. If successful, they will wipe out states’ rights.”

Trump has repeatedly blamed Republicans’ messaging on abortion for recent election losses, even as he has refused to take a clear viewpoint. This time around, he suggested that taking a state-by-state stance is the position the GOP needs to take to “win elections.”

This is the first time Trump has offered some sort of abortion guidance to the Republican Party, which has refused to get behind a unified abortion message because, party officials say, it reflects Americans’ diverse views on the topic.

“The Dobbs decision stated ‘the people through their respective legislators in the states and Congress,’” said Jesse Southerland, federal policy director for Americans United for Life. “[Trump’s] statement doesn’t square with federal rulemaking and a plethora of statutes protecting women, unborn children, families and medical professionals from the harms of abortion violence.”

But even amid the disappointment within the movement, Trump’s grip over conservatives is still evident.

Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion group that has been the loudest in pushing for a strict federal ban, unexpectedly offered a more forgiving response. The organization’s president, Kristan Hawkins, said she was “pleased” that Trump did not endorse a 15-week restriction.

“We clearly have some work to do to educate the Trump administration to come on the many ways that abortion has been made federal. But with the mutual goals of supporting families and welcoming young children, we can work together to restore the culture of life,” Hawkins said.

Trump has attempted to take more moderate positions on abortion — which some conservatives have said “reflects the electoral minefield” created by Democrats — as every election since Roe v. Wade was overturned has seen major wins for abortion rights. While his stance on separating the federal government from abortion might be more appealing to some voters, Democrats are already accusing him of lying, particularly since he yet again touted that his presidency led to the fall of Roe.

“Having created the chaos of overturning Roe, he’s trying to say, ‘Oh, never mind. Don’t punish me for that. I just want to win,’” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Trump is scrambling.”

Overall, anti-abortion activists still see Trump as a strong ally to the movement.

“I do believe Trump knows this is more than just a state’s issue. … I think Trump realizes he has to navigate these very volatile waters that exist in our nation right now,” Mark Lee Dickson, an anti-abortion activist who helped pave the way for Texas’ lawsuit-enforced six-week ban, told NOTUS. “We have to make sure that we’re not overstating what we believe for a long time. I do believe that Trump hates abortion and wants to see it end in our country.”

Oriana González is a reporter at NOTUS.