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Trump disappoints with vague non-response to Alabama abortion law

Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin

May 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As conservative infighting erupted over Alabama’s new abortion ban and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy publicly bad-mouthing the law because it lacks rape or incest exceptions, many eyes turned to the uncharacteristically-silent President of the United States to give their side of the dispute an edge. Over the weekend, Donald Trump finally broke his silence with a statement that vaguely distanced himself from the law while changing the subject to generic rhetoric about the next election.

Trump posted the statement to Facebook and Twitter on Saturday evening:

As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions - Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother - the same position taken by Ronald Reagan. We have come very far in the last two years with 105 wonderful new Federal Judges (many more to come), two great new Supreme Court Justices, the Mexico City Policy, and a whole new & positive attitude about the Right to Life. The Radical Left, with late term abortion (and worse), is imploding on this issue. We must stick together and Win for Life in 2020. If we are foolish and do not stay UNITED as one, all of our hard fought gains for Life can, and will, rapidly disappear!

For the record, Trump is misstating Reagan’s position. It’s true that the Gipper once favored a rape exception, explaining in a 1975 radio address that “just as [a woman] has the right defend herself against rape, she should not be made to bear a child resulting from that violation of her person.”

But as president, Reagan had seen the light. In a 1984 debate, Reagan’s Vice President, George H.W. Bush, clarified that his running mate was more conservative than he on this point: “The president and I do favor a human rights amendment. I favor one that would have an exception for incest and rape, and he doesn’t.” In his 1988 State of the Union Address, Reagan called for a Human Life Amendment that makes only “one exception” when a pregnancy “threatens the life of the mother.”

As for the substance, Trump doesn’t explicitly come out against the Alabama law...but what’s the point of choosing now to reiterate one’s support for exceptions, if not to distance oneself from it? The goal of uniting all pro-lifers to focus on the abortion lobby’s latest extremism is fine, but signaling allegiance to the naysayers doesn’t accomplish that; it just needlessly antagonizes some of your most ardent allies.

If the president wanted to effectively call on pro-lifers to rally around what unites us, he should have stressed to those squeamish about the “hard cases” that the Alabama law’s ultimate purpose is not to take effect immediately, but to challenge the Supreme Court’s disenfranchisement of the American people on abortion. If successful, Trump could have pointed out, the result won’t be the final establishment of anyone’s ideal abortion ban, but freeing each state to pass whatever pro-life laws it’s ready for.

We’ll have accomplished one major goal we all claim to want, while the debate would continue over rape and incest abortions. That would be a message every pro-lifer could rally behind, whereas letting some within our ranks echo pro-aborts about the law’s “extremism” only undermines the cause of life.

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Calvin Freiburger

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Calvin Freiburger is a Wisconsin-based conservative writer and 2011 graduate of Hillsdale College. His commentary and analysis have been featured on NewsReal Blog, Live Action, and various other conservative websites. Before joining LifeSiteNews, he spent two years in Washington, DC, working to build support for the Life at Conception Act with the National Pro-Life Alliance, then worked a year and a half as assistant editor of TheFederalistPapers.org. You can follow him on Twitter @CalFreiburger, and check out his personal website, ConservativeStandards.com.