Donald Trump says abortion law should be left to states

Former US president declines to endorse national ban but takes credit for overturning Roe v Wade

Donald Trump has declined to back a national abortion ban, in a move likely to disappoint more hardline groups but reassure Republicans concerned that the party’s stance could hurt their chances in November’s election.

Mr Trump said on his Truth Social platform on Monday that individual states, not the federal government, should have authority over abortion – a statement at odds with anti-abortion campaigners who are seeking a nationwide ban to be enacted by Congress.

“The states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case, the law of the state,” Mr Trump said in a video on the site. “At the end of the day, it is all about will of the people. Now it is up to the states to do the right thing.”

Mr Trump has come under pressure to lay out his position on abortion, an issue that has divided the US electorate and supercharged Democratic electoral successes in recent years. He has also been concerned that draconian abortion laws could hurt his own bid for the White House in November.


“You must follow your heart on this issue,” Mr Trump said. “But remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture, and in fact, to save our country, which is currently and very sadly a nation in decline.”

Despite the effort to strike a more moderate position on the issue, Mr Trump took credit in the video for appointing conservative justices to the US supreme court who in 2022 overturned Roe v Wade, which had guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion.

Mr Trump said he was “proudly the person responsible for the ending of something that all legal scholars, both sides, wanted, and in fact, demanded, be ended”.

The supreme court’s 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which gave states the right to set abortion policies, split the country. More than a dozen states have since enacted hardline abortion laws banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, when most women do not realise they are pregnant.

But Mr Trump has since blamed Republican positions on abortion for disappointing electoral performances in recent years, including the 2022 midterm elections when the party failed to capture the Senate and gained the House of Representatives by a razor-thin margin.

In the video, Mr Trump likened himself to Ronald Reagan, saying that like the former president he was “strongly in favour of exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother”.

President Joe Biden said in a statement on Monday that Mr Trump was “more than anyone in America ... the person responsible for ending Roe vs Wade” and “responsible for creating the cruelty and the chaos that has enveloped America since the Dobbs decision”.

“Trump is scrambling. He’s worried that since he’s the one responsible for overturning Roe the voters will hold him accountable in 2024,” Mr Biden added. “Well, I have news for Donald. They will.” – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024