Worry/Don’t Worry: Abortion’s Still A Big Deal In This Election

Reproductive rights aren’t safe under any GOP presidential candidate — no, not even Donald Trump.

By Jane Coaston

Anti-abortion evangelicals are showing up at Donald Trump’s rallies in support of the GOP presidential candidate who defended Planned Parenthood. Persistent conservative presence Ann Coulter (kids, ask your parents) tweeted that she didn’t care if Trump performed abortions in the White House. Reproductive rights may be taking a backseat in this election cycle, but don’t get it twisted. Every Republican candidate - including the front-runner - is dedicated to limiting access to abortion for everyone, everywhere.

Sure, Trump’s been relatively quiet on the subject. He’s all about building a wall between the United States and Mexico, and riling up that all-important voting bloc of alt-right white supremacist Twitter bros, and abortion isn’t even a listed issue on his campaign website. But when pro-life Trump supporters aren’t defending his position (like the Blaze’s Scott Morefield, a self-described “Christian husband of one and father of four” who’s still like, “It’s cool, even if he’s pro-choice, we aren’t”), they’re just not visibly caring that much in the first place. Even among evangelicals, the group most likely to describe abortion as “morally wrong,” Trump is incredibly popular.

And some supporters of other GOP candidates are following their lead. In a New York magazine piece profiling Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire, Ashley Zabriskie, a Kasich supporter in New Hampshire, said that “I personally believe in traditional marriage and I am pro-life, but both of these things have been decided by the Supreme Court and they don’t bother me. I’m not God; I don’t have to judge other people. Our president doesn’t have to spend his time worrying who can get abortions and who can get married.” No wonder anti-abortion advocates are alarmed - from Susan B. Anthony List, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the conservative magazine The Federalist to the writers of Catholic Vote, who posted a blog article titled simply, “Not. Trump.

But it’s all bullshit for show, and here’s why: not one GOP candidate - including Donald Trump - is standing up for reproductive rights.

Mallory Quigley of the Susan B. Anthony List, a Washington-based group that supports anti-abortion candidates for office, says that her group’s concerns with Trump are simple: Trump talks about women like they’re dumb cattle with bad hair, and his top candidate for vice-president, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, is pro-choice, as are his hypothetical judicial nominees. “We all know that personnel is policy,” she says.

But Quigley added that every Republican candidate, including Trump, has signed on to support SBA’s top legislative priorities: passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban elective abortions after 20 weeks; defunding Planned Parenthood; and passing the Hyde Amendment, a legislative “rider” that bars the use of some federal funding to pay for reproductive care, including abortion. In January, Trump wrote an op-ed for the conservative Washington Examiner saying that such funding was “an insult to people of conscience at the least and an affront to good governance at best.” Trump may not be an establishment Republican, but he sure can talk like one on choice.

Sure, he doesn’t have the anti-choice bona fides of Ted Cruz, who just defeated him in Iowa, launched “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” while campaigning before the caucuses, and held a rally in Des Moines where he detailed his own personal glorified quest to limit access to abortion while serving as solicitor general of Texas and in Congress. According to Quigley, Cruz won 42 percent of voters who said that they wanted a candidate who shared their values. Trump won 6 percent.

All of this is critical, because there hasn’t been a sunnier time in decades for faraway dudes who want to go cramming legislation all up in your uterus. In 2016, there have already been 147 bills limiting access to abortion or the use of fetal tissue in research introduced in state legislatures. In Missouri alone, there are 22 such bills, including a bill that would require that a parent of a minor seeking an abortion contact any other parent, in writing, before the procedure. That means if you need an abortion, you need your parent’s permission, and then that parent needs to contact another parent - who might be abusive, or unsupportive, or, like, in space - to get their permission. It’s getting harder to get an abortion at your doctor’s office; abortion providers that provide fetal tissue for research are being hit by lawsuits, and in states like Mississippi, which has one of the highest pregnancy-related maternal mortality rates in the country, there are only two places to go - including just one clinic - if you need the procedure.

Dawn Laguens, vice-president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, says, "Voters don't want to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, and Donald Trump knows it. That's why Trump, whose policies would be a disaster for women, is polling so well, and Cruz is polling below him both nationally and in the upcoming primary states."  And that makes sense - sort of. But Trump still wants to limit access to reproductive health care for everyone, even if he’s not actively drawing attention to the issue. And let’s be real: The “we just don’t care about abortion because Mexico” crowd of Trump supporters just isn’t that big. Even if they’re not shouting it outside a clinic, anti-abortion activists, including Trump supporters, still want to get between you and your right to choose.

Like so many of his predecessors and peers, Donald Trump is counting on you not to notice that he doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Under a Trump presidency, access to abortion would be cut even further, just like it would be under every other GOP candidate. Trump may play an anti-establishment candidate on TV. But on the issue of choice, he’s just another dude who thinks he knows what you need down there better than you do.