Updated Mar 2, 2024 - Politics & Policy

"Department of Life": Trump allies plot abortion crackdown for second term

Former President Trump speaks into microphone

Former President Trump speaks at a conference on Feb. 24 in Maryland.Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Allies of former President Trump are looking to crack down on abortion should the GOP frontrunner secure another White House term later this year.

Why it matters: Though the plans come from the Heritage Foundation — not the Trump campaign — the think tank is highly influential in Republican circles, and its Project 2025 is the most sophisticated pre-transition planning effort to date.

  • Heritage's detailed plans underscore conservatives' long-held grievances toward the Department of Health and Human Services — at a time when they are well-positioned to sway abortion policy if Trump wins again.

Driving the news: The issue was raised recently in a New York Times column, which pointed to Heritage's 887-page "Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise," published last year.

In the document, Heritage asserts that the federal health department should "return to being known as the Department of Life."

  • HHS would do so "by explicitly rejecting the notion that abortion is health care and by restoring its mission statement under the Strategic Plan and elsewhere to include furthering the health and well-being of all Americans 'from conception to natural death.'"
  • As part of its "Life Agenda," the foundation also calls for the elimination of the HHS Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force, developed by the Biden administration just months prior to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • Heritage says this team should be replaced by "a pro-life task force to ensure that all of the department's divisions seek to use their authority to promote the life and health of women and their unborn children."

Reality check: Neither Trump nor his campaign have blessed the document, per the New York Times.

  • The campaign has previously stated that "none of these groups or individuals speak for President Trump or his campaign."
  • "Unless a second term priority is articulated by President Trump himself, or is officially communicated by the campaign, it is not authorized in any way," they added.

Neither the Heritage Foundation nor representatives for the Trump campaign responded to Axios' request for comment.

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