Election 2020

What to Tell Your Fence-Sitting Friends About Trump's Record on Abortion

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

If your friends are squeamish about voting for President Donald Trump, I understand. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Trump in 2016 because of his temperament and because I didn’t trust his promises. Yet Trump’s successes in his first term have brought me around, and I think they will convince your friends, too.

This is the second in a series of articles explaining the president’s policy successes and giving a full-throated defense for his reelection. (The first dealt with foreign policy.) This article will focus on how President Trump has defended the lives of the unborn and opposed the Left’s relentless push on abortion.

While previous Republican presidents have addressed the March for Life remotely, President Donald Trump became the first president to attend the march in person, and he gave a passionate speech in defense of the unborn. Trump has repeatedly condemned Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D-Va.) comments defending infanticide after Northam infamously said doctors would consider giving palliative care to newborn babies if they survive an attempted abortion.

Yet Trump’s key successes in defending life — like his key successes in foreign policy — have less to do with rhetoric and more to do with results.

Shortly after he entered office, the president immediately reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which bars non-government organizations that offer or promote abortion overseas from receiving federal government funding. President Ronald Reagan first launched the policy, which Bill Clinton and Barack Obama suspended and which George W. Bush resurrected. In September, Trump expanded the policy to include military and government contracts overseas.

Also early on, Trump signed a law allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood.

Under President Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also altered the rules for Title X family planning funding, forbidding recipients from referring patients directly for abortion. Planned Parenthood responded to this rule change by turning down $60 million per year in Title X funds, prioritizing abortion over taxpayer dollars.

President Trump also reversed many of Obama’s abortion policies that trampled on the religious freedom of religious charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor. Early in his tenure, the president issued an executive order promoting free speech and religious freedom across the government. According to a 2018 study, this order played a critical role in allowing faith-based charities to provide health care to 13.7 million Americans.

As the report noted, “a multitude of religious organizations, charities, schools, and other groups and individuals have been tied up in years of litigation against the Obama administration’s HHS contraceptive mandate that was issued following the passage of the Affordable Care Act,” also known as Obamacare. The Trump administration created a meaningful exemption that covers the 354 organizations that had challenged the Obama mandate in court.

Catholic Charities USA, the umbrella organization for many Roman Catholic charity organizations, served more than 8.7 million Americans in 2014. Catholic health care providers serve one of every six hospital patients in America. In a one-year period, they collectively admitted over 5 million patients. The Obama contraceptive mandate threatened the 13.7 million people these health care establishments served.

These charities opposed the mandate because it forced convictionally pro-life organizations to pay for contraceptive methods that they believe amount to abortion. Pro-life organizations should not be forced to pay for abortifacient drugs, but Obama’s administration ordered just that. This led to the perverse situation of the U.S. government fighting the Little Sisters of the Poor in court.

While these policy achievements are notable, the central issue on abortion is the Supreme Court precedent of Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). In Roe, the Supreme Court unilaterally amended the U.S. Constitution, reinterpreting the 14th Amendment to include a right to abortion that is not in the text and is not grounded in the original public meaning of the text.

President Trump cannot overturn Roe, but he can nominate judges and justices to the federal courts who will faithfully interpret the text of the Constitution rather than unilaterally amending it in the way the Supreme Court did in Roe. Trump has nominated hundreds of Originalist federal judges and three Originalist Supreme Court justices in order to do just that.

President Trump’s judicial legacy may involve a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade, enabling the states to make their own laws on abortion. A reversal of Roe v. Wade would not necessarily make abortion illegal across the U.S., but it would open the issue up to the kind of legislative debate the Founders intended, reversing the Supreme Court’s horrific abuse of power in 1973.

Trump’s accomplishments on the issue of abortion stand in stark contrast to the extreme policies of Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. Biden and Harris have pledged to codify Roe v. Wade into law, and they have supported abortion laws that do not restrict the horrific practice of killing babies to the early stages of pregnancy.

Most Americans do not support legal abortion after the third trimester, except in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother. Yet Biden and Harris support laws that would make second- and third-trimester abortion legal.

Worse, Biden and Harris support forcing taxpayers to fund abortion, reversing a key longstanding political compromise. Even Biden previously supported the Hyde Amendment, which protected the consciences of pro-life Americans by preventing taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortion. Now, the Democrats have wholeheartedly rejected this commonsense policy.

The Democrats’ pro-abortion radicalism arguably echoes the horrific pro-slavery rhetoric of the South in the days leading up to the Civil War. The Founders had agreed that slavery was evil but they conceded that it could not be abolished if the United States were to remain together, so they agreed to allow slavery within limits. The Founders prevented the spread of slavery into northern territories.

Yet in the decades before the Civil War southern Democrats began supporting slavery as a positive good and — in the name of choice — they supported opening up northern lands to the possibility of slavery. They forced northerners who still considered slavery an evil to abet the horrific institution by advocating the Fugitive Slave Act, forcing authorities in the North to send escaped slaves back to bondage in the South.

Contrary to popular belief, the South did not secede in order to preserve slavery from an abolitionist Abraham Lincoln, but to preserve the expansion of slavery from the threat of Lincoln, who wanted to keep slavery out of the northern territories. The South had forced its pro-slavery radicalism on the North, and when Lincoln won the election, the South wanted to leave the Union entirely because it was no longer in control. Lincoln fought the war to preserve the Union, and only after years of war did he realize that abolition was the natural — and rightful — response to the war.

Like the southern Democrats, modern Democrats are now championing as a positive good something they previously allowed for as a necessary evil. Worse, they are trying to force their views on the rest of the country, again like the southern Democrats.

Meanwhile, Trump has limited taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood — which amounts to indirect taxpayer funding for abortion — and he has defended the religious liberty of pro-life Americans. He has nominated Originalist judges and justices who will reverse Roe v. Wade not because they are legislating from the bench but because they want to open the issue to the voters.

These are key victories for good government, as well as victories for pro-life Americans. They present a key reason to vote for Trump in November.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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