(LifeSiteNews) — Former President Donald Trump repeated a common pro-abortion objection to heartbeat laws in response to a voter asking him to affirm his commitment to the preborn in a Fox News town hall.
On Wednesday evening, Fox held a live town hall with the former president, which was scheduled to coincide with the latest Republican presidential primary debate on CNN that the former president skipped once again, where Trump took questions from Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum as well as audience members.
One of those questions came from a self-described undecided female voter, who said she has “been vocal in celebrating with you all of your pro-life victories from the past, but then in this campaign, you’ve also blamed pro-lifers for some of the GOP losses around the country and you’ve called heartbeat laws like Iowa’s terrible.” She went on, “I’d just like some clarity on this because it’s such an important question to me. I’d like for you to reassure me that you can protect all life, every person’s right to life without compromise.”
Pro-life voter questions Trump about his commitment to the unborn: "I'd like for you to reassure me that you can protect all life, every person's right to life, without compromise." pic.twitter.com/1KnC38U6wQ
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) January 11, 2024
The questioner was referencing comments made by Trump over the past year blaming “the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions,” for the GOP’s underperformance in the 2022 congressional midterms and declaring it a “terrible thing and a terrible mistake” for his chief 2024 Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to have signed a six-week abortion ban (the latter in an interview where he also touted plans to put abortion “behind us” by “com[ing] up with a number of weeks or months” for an abortion cutoff point that would “make people happy” on both sides).
In response, Trump said, “you wouldn’t be asking that question, even talking about the issue, because for 54 years they were trying to get Roe v Wade terminated, and I did it, and I’m proud to have done it. Nobody else was going to get that done but me, and we did it, and we did something that was a miracle.”
Trump appointed three of the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who went on to overturn Roe in June 2022, from a list of judges given to him by the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, a measure that was adopted to placate pro-lifers who distrusted his “very pro-choice” past. According to both Trump himself and his first appointee Neil Gorsuch, Trump did not vet his appointees’ positions on Roe prior to appointing them. Nevertheless, Trump has frequently claimed sole credit for the pro-life victory while claiming its true significance was giving pro-lifers “tremendous negotiating power.”
“Now, I happen to be for the exceptions, like Ronald Reagan, with the life of the mother, rape, incest,” Trump added. “I just have to be there, I feel. I think probably 78% or so, a poll, about 78%. It was Ronald Reagan. He was for it. I was for it.”
In fact, while Reagan expressed support for a rape exception in 1975, two years after Roe, by the time he became president he had come to oppose it, advocating a constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide for any reason except to save a mother’s life, which he expressly called his “one exception.”
“But I will say this: you have to win elections,” the former president stressed. “Otherwise you’re going to be back where you were, and you can’t let that ever happen again. You’ve got to win elections.”
Polls show that most Americans are not prepared to support full abortion bans without rape or incest exceptions, which when combined with the midterm disappointment has left many fearful of abortion’s political ramifications. But polls also show that voters are equally averse to Democrats’ position of completely unregulated abortion for all nine months, rebuking suggestions that Republicans need fear a firm pro-life stance.
But arguably the most surprising portion of Trump’s answer came when he touched on heartbeat laws, which effectively ban abortion around six weeks. “A lot of people say, if you talk five or six weeks, a lot of women don’t know if they’re pregnant in five or six weeks,” Trump said, repeating a common pro-abortion talking point against heartbeat legislation.
He then reiterated his interest in an abortion compromise, saying, “I want to get something where people are happy. You know, this has been tearing our country apart for 50 years. Nobody’s been able to do anything,” and concluded by calling Democrats the true “radicals” on abortion, noting the party’s refusal to accept any limits on abortion.
A few days before the town hall, DeSantis slammed Trump on life in a CNN town hall, noting that “this is a guy that was at the March for Life in January of 2020, and he said that all life was a gift from God, he said the unborn was made in the image of God, he said that there should be protections. That’s what he was saying when he was president at the March for Life. Now he’s saying it’s a terrible, terrible thing. So, how do you reconcile those two views? Did he flip flop? Did he not believe it at the time?”
“Some issues are pretty fundamental. How do you flip flop on something like the sanctity of life?” he asked.
Trump maintains a commanding lead for the Republican presidential nomination, which DeSantis supporters are counting on reversing starting with the governor’s ground operation delivering a surprise victory in the impending Iowa caucuses.
Fluctuating national polls currently have Trump narrowly leading a close race with Biden should the former president be nominated, although voters also say that likely convictions in left-wing venues will make them less likely to support him. It’s also speculated that Democrats may replace Biden with a younger Democrat such as Gavin Newsom or Dean Phillips, and it is not yet known which candidate would lose more votes to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent presidential run.