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Former U.S. President Donald TrumpBrandon Bell/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — President Donald Trump’s decision to undermine pro-life efforts in Arizona by criticizing its abortion law should not be surprising – just last week he said he opposes any federal limit on abortion.

He also implausibly has stated in the past he would make a deal that would please “both sides.”

Students for Life sees the problem with Trump’s abortion position now, too.

“Tell President Trump: Abortion IS a federal issue!” a new petition launched by Students for Life Action states.

“We’re calling on President Trump to pledge to fight for the rights of the preborn at ALL LEVELS and stop listening to pro-abortion, Swamp consultants who try to argue abortion isn’t a federal issue,” the petition states.

“Mr. President, you’ve made some conflicting statements on abortion this week,” the petition states. “The Pro-Life Generation is demanding a champion in the White House. Can we count on you?”

The petition comes after Trump criticized Arizona’s law that bans nearly all abortions. This should be the goal of the pro-life movement and any presidential candidate who seeks the support of pro-lifers – to eliminate all abortion and protect all human life from the moment of conception, without exceptions. The circumstances of conception can never justify the direct and intentional killing of a preborn baby.

The law was first passed in 1864 and codified in 1913 but blocked after Roe v. Wade. “The decision means that abortion is now illegal in the state for any reason except when allegedly ‘necessary’ to save a mother’s life,” LifeSiteNews reported recently. “Direct abortion is always gravely immoral and never needed nor ethically justified to save a mother’s life.”

The state supreme court upheld the law on Tuesday, April 9. Just a day prior, Trump had said he did not believe in any federal limits on abortion and said the issue should be left to the states. After Arizona’s ruling, he criticized the pro-life law.

This has apparently led Students for Life to call on Trump to do more, after backing him on Monday, April 8, when he said there would be no federal limits.

“I’m pleased to see that President Trump listened to pro-lifers and isn’t going to allow a divisive late-term limit that some GOP insiders were been pushing, which would have embraced more than 9 in 10 abortions, to be a distraction from Joe Biden’s abortion extremism,” Students for Life Action President Kristan Hawkins stated on Monday, April 8. (I am the former executive director of Students for Life Action).

Students for Life of America echoed its political arm’s backing of Trump’s comments on X (formerly known as Twitter). “President Trump declines to endorse a late-term abortion line that would support more than 9 in 10 abortions.”

“It’s not really surprising that political consultants often want to avoid the abortion issue,” Students for Life Action Vice President for Media and Policy Kristi Hamrick told me via email on Friday, April 12. “But you can’t run from the abortion bullies that seem in control of the Biden-Harris Administration.”

“From our perspective, the listening came in Trump not endorsing a federal law that would allow more than 9 in 10 abortions by waiting to limit abortion until four months (15-16) weeks of pregnancy,” Hamrick said when asked about listening to pro-lifers. I asked about what the group meant by listening to pro-lifers versus consultants, since SFLA had praised Trump after he did not endorse any federal limits.

“As you know, SFLAction has been very deliberate in arguing that if you are choosing a gestational limit, it’s Heartbeat protections or better that we are fighting to see become law,” Hamrick said.

It is a good shift to push Trump to do more, as the president’s prior position should have been a non-starter for pro-life groups in the first place. By rejecting any federal limits at all, Trump signaled he was retreating from the abortion issue.

It is true that the 15-week federal abortion ban floated by senators such as Lindsey Graham would only protect around six percent of babies from abortion, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Like SFL Action says, the pro-life movement must push for so much more, preferably a Human Life Amendment or some other strong law that would eliminate abortion. (There might be ways to effectively eliminate abortion through regulation and legislative maneuvers in the meantime, as detailed here).

But in Trump’s announcement, he effectively embraced 10 in 10 abortions, by refusing to endorse any federal limits on abortion.

If a 15-week abortion limit should be rejected by the pro-life movement for not going far enough, then a 40-week abortion limit must be rejected too.

Some other pro-life leaders saw through Trump’s shallow statements from the outset.

While SFLA was at least originally backing Trump, Abby Johnson was not.

“No, I will not be praising a pro-choice statement made by someone who says they are ‘prolife,’” Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life advocate wrote on X (formerly Twitter) the night of Trump’s announcement.

“We have got to stop listening to ‘leaders’ who are willing to sell their soul for an election and/or ‘leaders’ who still need education on the most important issue in our lifetime,” she wrote on April 10. “If you don’t understand the significant damage abortion does to our society, then step aside.”

Live Action President Lila Rose also saw through Trump from the beginning, criticizing him in a lengthy statement on X and on an episode of her podcast. On April 8, before other groups were doing so, Rose warned consultants were driving Trump’s abortion position.

“Killing babies is always wrong,” Rose wrote. “President Trump is not a pro-life candidate. He’s far less pro-abortion than Biden, but he supports killing some preborn children and will even make that his position in an attempt to get pro-abortion votes.”

Rose also points out that the rights of human beings should not be up for a vote.

“President Trump also says that abortion should come down to the ‘will of the people,’” Rose wrote.

“It is not right for democratic societies to vote on the fundamental rights of unpopular minorities,” she wrote. “There is no more unpopular minority today than preborn Americans.”

“Abortion is not about the ‘will of the people,’ it’s about respecting the human right that we are endowed with by our creator,” she wrote. “Our rights come from God, not the government.”

Rose also took aim at Trump’s comments favorable of in vitro fertilization, which destroys innocent human embryos.

“Those rights do not change because of the circumstances of our conception,” she said. “Children conceived in rape do not deserve to be killed. Children conceived in IVF do not deserve to be killed, frozen indefinitely or subjected to lethal science experiments.”

Trump does not currently have a pro-life platform.

He not only opposes any federal limits on abortion, he also finds it necessary to weigh in on state disputes, criticizing Arizona’s law that essentially bans all abortion.

So did his devoted follower Kari Lake, who is running as a Republican to be Arizona’s senator.

Lake said she opposes a federal ban on abortion and also wants to weaken Arizona’s law, calling on the state’s liberal Democrat governor to come to the table to find a “solution.”

“So, not pro-life,” Kristan Hawkins wrote, responding to Lake. “What a stupid statement.”

The same can be said about Trump’s views on abortions.