Where Does Donald Trump Stand On Access To Abortion?

Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images.
With issues of terrorism, economic policy, and even gun rights dominating the 2016 presidential election, one of the most notable issues for women voters seems almost absent. For many young women, access to reproductive health care can be the political issue with the biggest effect on their day-to-day life. And although the Supreme Court just decided the biggest abortion case in two decades this summer, nothing is ever certain. So with the election upon us, what have the presidential candidates said about where they stand on reproductive rights? Here's what you need to know about Republican Donald Trump and his stance. And if you want to see how he measures up to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, you can check out her stance, here.

He’s gone back and forth over the years.

As a businessman in the late '90s and early aughts, before his political aspirations took hold, Trump publicly supported a woman’s right to choose. “I’m very pro-choice,” he said on Meet The Press in 1999, continuing that he personally disliked abortion. “I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion.” He said he would not ban abortion, were he to become president (then only a distant hypothetical, as he was not running for the office). A decade later, he had switched his stance. He said in a 2011 interview that he had changed his leaning thanks to personal stories from friends, including an instance in which an unwanted pregnancy turned out to be welcomed after the child's birth. In 2015, he said in the first Republican primary debate that he had evolved on the issue over the years, citing Ronald Reagan as an example of someone who had done the same. “Since [1999], I’ve very much evolved,” he said, “and I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.”

He’s said a lot of contradictory things on the subject, including whether he'd defund Planned Parenthood.

Though Trump is pro-life, he said in a January 2015 interview with Bloomberg News that he supported “caveats” to forbidding abortion, including the health of the woman, rape, and incest, which makes him more moderate on the issue than many of his Republican counterparts, including former rivals for the presidential nomination. Indeed, Trump has said that he would want to adjust the Republican Party platform to reflect those three exceptions. In March, he notoriously said that women who undergo abortions should be punished if the procedure is banned in the United States, before quickly backtracking. “The woman is a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb,” he said according to The New York Times. He clarified that he thought the doctor should be punished in the event of an illegal abortion. Most critically, he’s called for defunding Planned Parenthood, even though he believes the women’s health organization does “important work.” “They do some very good work,” Trump said in a February interview with Meet The Press. “Cervical cancer, lots of women’s issue, women’s health issues are taken care of.” But he’s said he would defund Planned Parenthood “as long as they’re doing abortions,” despite the fact that federal funds are prohibited from going to abortion services under the Hyde Amendment.

He’s said that he would nominate Supreme Court justices that are against abortion.

The winner of the 2016 election will likely have at least one Supreme Court seat, possibly more, to fill during their term. Trump, for his part, has promised to load the court with justices who would never rule in favor of abortion. “You won’t even have to question. You wouldn’t even have to bother going to court. You’re going to know the answers,” he said in a radio interview, Politico reported. Trump’s vice president pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also has a history of pushing against abortion rights and has said that a Trump presidency would overturn the Supreme Court decision that granted American women the right to an abortion. “We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” Pence said in Michigan in late July.

He hasn’t said much of anything on contraception — directly, at least.

Trump has promised to overturn the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s landmark healthcare legislation. However, one of the big tenets of the ACA is that preventative care, including many forms of birth control, is covered at no cost. Also covered is an annual "well-woman" visit to access reproductive health care, mammograms, prenatal care, and breast-feeding support. According to a study from the Guttmacher Institute, the number of privately insured women who were able to access no-cost contraception rose dramatically after the ACA was instituted, from 15% in the fall of 2012 to 67% in the spring of 2014. While Trump doesn't directly address contraception in condemning the Affordable Care Act, his proposed healthcare plan doesn't contain any mention of how he might ensure low-cost access to contraception — which was not guaranteed before the passage of the ACA — remains available for American women.

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