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(LifeSiteNews) – Several prominent conservative influencers vouched for former president and presumptive Republican White House nominee Donald Trump’s Monday declaration that the national abortion debate was at an “end” and future policy battles should be relegated to individual states, insisting it was an act of strategic prudence rather than political capitulation.

After months of speculation about a string of concerning comments the 45th president had made attacking heartbeat laws and expressing interest in finding an abortion compromise, Trump announced Monday morning that his new position on life is for individual states to decide their own abortion laws, and “whatever they decide must be the law of the land.” He used the occasion to stress his support for in vitro fertilization and rape, incest, and life-of-the-mother exceptions to abortion bans, and thanked the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 for “allow(ing) this long term, hard fought battle to finally end.”

The statement was met with mild criticism from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America (SBA) president Marjorie Dannenfelser and harsh criticism from Live Action president Lila Rose, along with more generous reactions from Students for Life (SFL) and the National Right to Life (NRLC) Committee, as well as heated debates among pro-lifers and conservatives on social media. Over the past two days, several prominent figures in conservative media and grassroots activism have weighed in, as well.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk called Trump’s statement “masterful,” claiming to have spoken with pro-life leaders who are “very happy” with it for “allow(ing) the Pro-Life movement a huge opportunity to continue this human rights issue in the states.”

Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance said that while her organization “favors federal limits on abortion,” the “reality of a stark choice” between Trump and pro-abortion Democrat President Joe Biden means the former has her “endorsement and support in November.”

Constitutional attorney and talk radio host Mark Levin first called Trump’s announcement “superb,” then claimed that pursuing a “federal law to prevent all abortions” would only lead to Democrats “us(ing) federal law to impose Roe and beyond on the entire country” because “they control the federal Leviathan, we don’t.”

Priests for Life director Frank Pavone suggested that, despite Trump’s choice of words and prior statements about putting the debate “behind us,” the former president was attempting to set the stage for a more comprehensive effort to end abortion to be resumed after he “save(s) the nation.”

Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter and talk radio host Hugh Hewitt both suggested that displeasure with Trump’s stance was unfounded by claiming that leaving abortion to the states was always the dominant position among pro-lifers and Republicans:

In fact, the battle against abortion is far from over, and Democrats give every indication they intend to keep it at the national forefront regardless of what Republicans do, primarily via their longstanding push to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law. The abortion industry’s federal crimes that multiple administrations have refused to investigate, federal actions subsidizing abortions and facilitating easy distribution of abortion pills (thereby thwarting state laws), and a wave of pro-abortion state constitutional amendments that can only be undone by later amendments or federal action further guarantee controversies will not stay confined to the states.

In addition, while libertarian and moderate voices have long perpetuated the myth that the U.S. Constitution does not empower Congress to protect preborn life, it has long been the official position of the Republican Party platform to “support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.” 

Over the past two decades, Congressional Republicans and pro-life groups have consistently supported federal legislation to ban infanticide, late-term abortion, and partial-birth abortions nationwide. NRLC, SBA, SFL Action, the National Pro-Life Alliance, Americans United for Life, and American Life League all support various federal measures to end abortion.

In his landmark essay “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation,” President Ronald Reagan endorsed several bills then pending before Congress to “enable our people to reaffirm the sanctity of human life, even the smallest and the youngest and the most defenseless,” as well as the “more difficult route of constitutional amendment, and I will give these initiatives my full support.”

Supporters have defended Trump’s about-face by citing his generally pro-life record in office and nomination of three of the justices who went on to overturn Roe, as well as by citing persistent fears among Republicans that abortion has been to blame for their election woes over the past several years (a narrative that oversimplifies polling data and election results and discounts a host of unrelated factors). 

Some pro-life voices objected, yet the GOP and conservative movement were largely content to relegate the debate over such issues to the background. Trump maintained his overwhelming lead  throughout the 2024 primary and easily bested his two closest competitors, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Polls currently have Trump leading Biden, although voters also say that convictions in Trump’s various ongoing legal battles would make them less likely to support him. However, serious concern among Democrats over Biden’s age and mental health, and deep dissatisfaction with his job performance, give the current president comparable electoral challenges. 

Third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could be a wild card, as he has qualities that appeal to each major candidate’s base. At the moment, the aforementioned polls show Trump’s lead persisting even with Kennedy factored in, but given how close many are predicting the election to be, concern persists that even small defections could impact the outcome. Kennedy recently confirmed that, like Biden, he would also sign legislation codifying a nationwide “right” to abortion.