Donald Trump: States Should Decide on Prosecuting Women for Abortions, No Comment on Abortion Pill

Former President Donald Trump stated in a new interview it should be up to states whether or not to monitor women’s pregnancies. When asked, he declined to comment on mifepristone — abortion pill — access, which has been entangled in a heated legal battle.

In an interview published Tuesday by Time magazine, Trump responded to questions about how he would handle numerous abortion questions if elected by frequently saying it should be left up to the states.

“You don’t need a federal ban,” said the former president and presumptive GOP presidential nominee. “Roe v. Wade…wasn’t about abortion so much as bringing it back to the states. So, the states would negotiate deals. Florida will be different from Georgia, and Georgia will be different from other places.”

When asked if he would veto a bill imposing a federal ban, he emphasized, “It’s about states’ rights,” and said, “There will never be that chance” because the GOP, even if they take the Senate back in November, wouldn’t have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and bring the bill up for a vote.

Trump repeated his response about states’ rights when asked if states should monitor the pregnancy of women so the government would know if they received an abortion. 

Amid debates about the criminalizing of women for getting an abortion, including those who use medication to self-manage, experts have raised the alarm over how modern technology surveillance could help law enforcement agencies track and then investigate abortions.

The former president also deferred to the states when asked if women should be punished for accessing an abortion after a state has restricted or banned the procedure.

“The states are going to make that decision,” said Trump. “The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me.”

Democrats have seized on Trump’s comments made in 2016, saying “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions.

Abortion is a crucial campaign issue in the 2024 presidential election as Trump looks to show a more cautious stance on the issue, which is seen as a vulnerable issue for Republicans and has driven Democrat voter turnout. Trump’s deferment to individual states has sparked criticism from Dems along with anti-abortion groups and conservatives seeking a federal ban.

SBA Pro-Life America, a national anti-abortion group, said in a statement it was “disappointed in President Trump’s position of relegating a human rights issue to the states.” The organization claimed Democrats would scrap the filibuster to “impose their agenda of abortion without limit on the entire country.”

SBA advocates for a national abortion ban after the 15th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for incest, rape, and saving the life of the mother; however, the organization voiced support for states that have stricter bans.

Trump, as president, appointed three justices to the United States Supreme Court who helped comprise a majority that then overturned the constitutional right to abortion. He has praised the decision during his campaign appearances. Earlier in the month, Trump said he was “proudly the person responsible for the ending” of the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling.

In the meantime, President Joe Biden has blamed the former president for the flood of state abortion restrictions that have gone into effect since the ruling two years ago. Biden’s campaign has additionally warned a second term for Trump could lead to nationwide limits on abortions. Recently, President Biden blamed Trump for the six-week abortion ban in Florida during campaign events in the state last week.

“Donald Trump’s latest comments leave little doubt: If elected, he’ll sign a national abortion ban, allow women who have an abortion to be prosecuted and punished, allow the government to invade women’s privacy to monitor their pregnancies, and put IVF and contraception in jeopardy nationwide,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, in a statement responding to the interview in Time.

Mini Timmaraju, president of Reproductive Freedom for All, also expressed doubts about Trump’s emphasis on moderation by keeping the issue at a state level.

“There is zero doubt in my mind that Trump will choose anti-abortion extremists and their horrifying agenda over American families every single chance he gets,” said Timmaraju.

Trump declined to speak with Time about mifepristone as access to the abortion drug has been thrown into uncertainty amidst a legal battle that has made its way to the Supreme Court.

Abortion debate advocates on both sides of the issue have also long pressed President Trump to make his views on the Comstock Act clear. The act is a 19th-century law that has been revived by anti-abortion groups that are seeking to block the mailing of mifepristone. The former president declined to comment on the act and said he only has “pretty strong views” on the matter and would make a statement over the next two weeks. 

“In Trump’s America, people will be punished for having abortions, the government will monitor women’s pregnancies, and he’ll weaponize and misuse the 19th-Century Comstock laws to try and criminalize doctors and outlaw abortion nationwide,” said the executive director for Planned Parenthood Votes, Jenny Lawson, in a statement.

Trump’s comments are in line with his strategy to show a more moderate side on abortion rights as he seeks to appeal to the general electorate. Trump has voiced disagreement previously with abortion restrictions in individual states, including the Civil War-era ban in Arizona and Florida’s six-week ban. In the interview in Time, Trump repeated he “thought six weeks is too severe.”