Apr 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump leading GOP astray on abortion, Pence says

Republican presidential candidate former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the 2023 First in the Nation Leadership Summit on October 14, 2023 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Mike Pence speaks during the 2023 First in the Nation Leadership Summit on October 14, 2023 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Mike Pence criticized former President Trump for leading the GOP astray with his abortion policies in a Sunday New York Times guest essay.

Why it matters: Abortion is one of the central issues for voters ahead of the general election, and Trump's current stance has left him at odds with some conservative GOP voters.

What he's saying: Former Vice President Pence said in the essay that Trump's call for states to decide on abortion laws was "disheartening" and that he was "deeply disappointed" by it.

  • "I know firsthand just how committed he was to the pro-life movement during our time in office," Pence wrote, citing an exchange between Trump and then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a 2016 debate and the former president's 2018 support of a proposed 20-week national ban passed by the House.
  • "Now, not only is Mr. Trump retreating from that position; he is leading other Republicans astray," Pence said, using the example of GOP Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake's changing stance, though not mentioning her by name.
  • Pence has previously supported a 6-week national abortion ban, and last June called on other GOP presidential candidates to get behind a 15-week ban.
  • In Sunday's essay, the former vice president reiterated his desire for a 15-week ban, saying "history has proved that when Republicans stand for life without apology and contrast our common-sense positions with the extremism of the pro-abortion left, voters reward us with victories at the ballot box."

Between the lines: Pence and Trump have traded barbs about abortion since leaving the White House, with the issue just one of many where the former running mates now disagree.

  • Pence initially rebuked Trump's refusal earlier this month to sign a national abortion ban, saying it was a "slap in the face" to the pro-life Americans who voted for him.
  • Trump fired back on Truth Social, accusing Pence of flip-flopping. "He started at no abortion for any reason, and then allowing abortions for up to 6 weeks, then up to 15 weeks, and then, who knows?" he wrote.

Reality check: Trump has also changed his stance on abortion over the years.

  • In March, the former president called a 15-week ban "very reasonable" though stopped short of endorsing a national ban.

Go deeper: Trump's abortion announcement left one big question

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