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Trump says abortion bans should be left to the states to decide


Former President Trump's position on abortion appears to be evolving. Yesterday, he declined to endorse a nationwide abortion ban and said abortion policies should be left up to the states. Here he is speaking on his online platform, Truth Social.


DONALD TRUMP: My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the 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.

MARTÍNEZ: Here to discuss what all this means ahead of November's presidential election, I'm joined by Sarah Isgur. She's a senior editor at The Dispatch who served as a Justice Department spokesperson under Trump, and she brings the conservative point of view to the weekly political podcast and radio show Left, Right & Center from NPR member station KCRW. So, Sarah, no doubt that the issue of abortion is a big one in this election year. How much of a policy shift is this for Trump?

SARAH ISGUR: Donald Trump's relationship to the pro-life community has always been uncomfortable, and I think this week's statement from him really highlights just how difficult that is moving forward. But Donald Trump also knows that his pro-life constituents and voters don't really have anywhere else to go. We saw a statement from the Susan B. Anthony group saying that they were deeply disappointed in Donald Trump's statement about abortion, and yet they would do everything they could to defeat Joe Biden because Joe Biden was still going to be a worse president on their issue than Donald Trump. So Donald Trump's clarification of his position, which didn't clarify much - he said that it would be left to the states. He didn't advocate for how states should come out. He didn't say one way or another whether he would sign a piece of legislation that could come to his desk for federal abortion bans. Nevertheless, the pro-life community - deeply upset by this, but also nowhere to go.

MARTÍNEZ: So you said that relationship with the pro-life community is uncomfortable, but is it unbreakable? It sounds like it might be.

ISGUR: I think so, and we've seen this from President Biden as well. Really, once this came down to a two-person race, negative polarization has really taken over. That's the idea that it's not that candidates necessarily like their choice, but they really are convinced to hate the other choice, so they're voting against President Biden when they vote for President Trump or against former President Trump when they vote for President Biden. And that's another example how this issue is playing into it.

And in some ways, it reminds me a bit of Bill Clinton's Sister Souljah moment back in the '90s, where Bill Clinton repudiated Sister Souljah, who was a rapper at the time who advocated for killing white people at a Jesse Jackson event. It didn't change Bill Clinton's support. It sort of - by, you know, talking to the most radical side of his own side, he shored up the center of his support. Donald Trump felt like the abortion issue was hurting Republicans, and this was his attempt to put it to bed. It won't, as we saw from President Biden's reaction and Democrats taking clips from that speech, really still trying to make abortion a big issue for their side to increase turnout.

MARTÍNEZ: Did this announcement win Trump votes, or did it lose him votes?

ISGUR: I don't think that the abortion issue is the vote-getter that either side thinks. We have definitely seen ballot measures where it - the pro-choice side and the Democrats have done very well, but in those same elections, even in red states where the pro-choice ballot measure has worked, pro-life candidates win, too. So there may be some change in turnout. It would be minimal. If there is, it certainly helps Democrats more than Republicans. It's unclear what that delta is, and it's unclear whether Democrats in states where there isn't a ballot measure, for instance, will be able to make much hay out of it.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Sarah Isgur, a senior editor at The Dispatch. Sarah, thank you very much for your thoughts.

ISGUR: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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