Donald Trump delivered the Supreme Court majority that voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, signed a laundry list of executive actions that chipped away at abortion access and openly embraced the anti-abortion movement, becoming the first sitting president to appear in person at the annual March for Life in 2020.
Yet the response from anti-abortion groups when he announced his 2024 presidential campaign was, in more careful and polite terms: Take a number.
“We look forward to President Trump and all presidential contenders outlining their pro-life vision and policy platform in the new Dobbs era as the primary election unfolds,” said Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser — one of several abortion opponents with muted responses to Trump’s announcement.
The same groups that helped put Trump in office in 2016 are now keeping him at arm’s length, illustrating how the Supreme Court’s June ruling erasing federal abortion rights has created a new litmus test in Republican presidential politics. No longer is it sufficient for a candidate to identify as “pro-life,” promise to defund Planned Parenthood or even to provide — as Trump did — a list of potential Supreme Court nominees who would vote to curtail abortion rights.
Anti-abortion advocates are insisting on more in a post-Roe era — namely, a hard commitment to back a federal abortion ban — and they’re holding out until they get it.
That means potential Republican presidential hopefuls — such as Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state’s 15-week abortion ban would have been at the leading edge of the anti-abortion movement a year ago — enter the 2024 cycle under pressure to go farther. There’s already a range of policy positions across the potential GOP field, from former Vice President Mike Pence’s support for a national abortion ban to former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent remarks that abortion should remain a state issue, and most have not yet detailed the exact anti-abortion policies they would push if elected.
But the mounting pressure on the issue puts prospective candidates in a bind between what GOP primary voters will demand and what general election voters will accept. [Continue reading…]