Mar 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump suggests 15-week abortion ban is "very reasonable"

Former President Trump in Rome, Georgia, on March 9.

Former President Trump in Rome, Georgia, on March 9. Photo: Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump suggested this week that a national 15-week abortion ban with exceptions could be "very reasonable," embraced by even his party's right flank, without taking a firm position.

Why it matters: Trump, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, has indicated on several occasions that he's open to national limitations as the GOP has failed to find a coherent strategy on an issue of great interest to voters.

  • He emphasized during a radio interview on Tuesday that he supports "exceptions," increasingly part of the GOP playbook, for rape, incest or life of the mother.
  • Recently, Trump had privately expressed support for a 16-week national abortion ban with exceptions in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancy complications.
  • Voters in multiple states have rejected proposed bans on abortions and have approved of abortion protections, even in solidly red states like Ohio.

What they're saying: Trump during an interview with conservative radio host Sid Rosenberg on WABC Tuesday repeated his boasts about helping to overturn Roe v. Wade by nominating three conservative Supreme Court justices. The court's Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in 2022 made abortion policy a state-level issue.

  • "The number of weeks now, people are agreeing on 15, and I'm thinking in terms of that, and it'll come out to something that's very reasonable," Trump said.

He added that he would make an announcement on what limits he officially supports "at the appropriate time."

  • He called views that have led Republicans to lose at the ballot box "impractical."

After tentatively supporting the idea of a federal ban, Trump claimed that "everybody agrees" that it should be a state issue.

  • "It shouldn't be a federal issue, it's a state issue," he said.

Between the lines: Trump's comments tentative support for a national ban comes in stark contrast to President Biden's stance on abortion, Axios' April Rubin reports.

  • Other Republicans who've embraced a 15-week ban — see Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Virginia — as a tactic, have seen losses at the ballot box.

Zoom out: Some of Trump's Republican allies and most prominently the Heritage Foundation, a highly influential conservative think tank, have been planning a crackdown on abortion should he receive a second term in the White House.

  • Implementing a national abortion ban would require legislation through Congress, which will remain a longshot so long as it's divided along party lines.
  • However, the next conservative president who opposes abortion could unilaterally ban most abortions without an act through Congress. It would require a relatively simple policy change at the Department of Justice.

Go deeper: Trump sparks GOP groans with "awful" remarks about Jews

Go deeper