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Former U.S. President Donald Trump Brandon Bell/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — Former President and presumptive Republican White House nominee Donald Trump told journalists on Wednesday that he will not sign a federal abortion ban if it reaches his desk.

CNN reports that he was asked point-blank if he would sign an abortion ban that did muster enough support to clear Congress, to which he answered “no.” The stance marks a reversal from his 2016 pledge to sign the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and his urging of Congress to send the same law to his desk at the 2020 March for Life.

Trump announced on Monday that “whatever” individual states “decide must be the law of the land” on abortion instead of pursuing further pro-life protections at the federal level, while reiterating his support for embryo-destructive in vitro fertilization and rape, incest, and “health” exceptions for abortion laws. Direct abortion is always gravely immoral and never needed nor ethically justified to save a mother’s life.

Trump has repeatedly framed the June 2022 overturn of Roe v. Wade, brought about thanks in part to Supreme Court justices he nominated, as an “end” to the abortion battle’s national aspect.

Various defenders have interpreted his remarks as a mere tactical focus on advancing life at the state level until public opinion is more conducive to federal action.

The answer removes whatever lingering doubt remained this week for the prospects of late-term or 15-week abortion bans in a second Trump administration.

Many pro-lifers argue that preemptively rejecting any federal abortion ban will forego chances of saving whatever number of babies can be saved at a given time and helps fuel a broader shift away from the Republican Party’s longstanding pro-life platform, potentially leading to it becoming a functionally or officially pro-abortion party. 

Others note that the vast majority of abortions occur before 15 weeks anyway and fear that a more moderate ban’s passage would breed contentment with the new status quo that dilutes the urgency of working for more comprehensive bans.

Trump also stated on Wednesday that Arizona went “too far” when its highest court allowed the enforcement of a near-total abortion ban dating back to 1864 and codified in 1913, expressing confidence it will be “straightened out” back “into reason” by Arizona leaders; and predicted without disapproval that “Florida’s probably gonna change” when residents vote on a ballot initiative to create a “right” to abortion that would invalidate a six-week ban Trump has repeatedly criticized.

Polls currently have Trump and Democrat incumbent President Joe Biden in a popular vote dead heat with a distinct lead for Trump in the Electoral College, 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. How the GOP’s significant pro-life voting bloc takes Trump’s latest comments could further shake the outcome.

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.