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Trump outlines his policy on abortion in a posting on Truth Social

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Former President Trump made an announcement this morning outlining his policy on abortion. He declined to support a federal ban, saying he wants the issue to be left up to the states.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks, or some will have more conservative than others, and that's what they will be.

FADEL: Trump's announcement made in a video post on Truth Social, his social media platform, comes after months of mixed messages sent by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Joining us now to talk about this is NPR political correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben. Hi, Danielle.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

FADEL: So why make this announcement now?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, pressure has been mounting for quite a while on former President Trump to make his views on abortion public and exact. He got through this entire GOP primary without making his views on abortion clear. That's really notable. So he had to talk about it sometime. That's one point. But as for what's happening now, one thing is that an increasing number of Republican-led states have passed laws restricting abortion rights. Most notably, last week, the Florida Supreme Court allowed the state's six-week ban on abortion to go into effect coming on May 1. And six weeks, by the way, is before most women even know they're pregnant.

That court also said that Florida voters could vote this November on a constitutional amendment that would protect the right to an abortion. And that's really important. There are abortion ballot measures coming in November, not only in Florida, but also in Maryland and New York and potentially in battleground states like Arizona and Nevada. And one thing we do know is that whenever abortion rights have been left directly to the voters, Democrats, independents and even some Republicans have supported them. So this could really be a big factor in this November's elections.

FADEL: As you point out, a huge factor in November elections, a really important issue for Americans. And he so far until today hadn't taken a stance. So who is Trump trying to appeal to with this announcement and this stance?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, he's trying to appeal to those voters that are alienated by restrictive GOP abortion policies. But what's notable today is that those voters who put abortion first and foremost, who want to restrict abortion, those voters may not be happy at all. In a statement this morning, SBA Pro-Life America, that's a leading anti-abortion rights group, their president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said, quote, "we are deeply disappointed in President Trump's position." And she added that by saying that this is states' choice, Trump, quote, "cedes the national debate to Democrats." Now, we should point out here that Trump had considered a more restrictive position. Just weeks ago, he said he was considering a 15-week federal ban on abortions nationwide. Excuse me. But he clearly decided against that. And you can imagine here that he is betting that anti-abortion rights voters will, in the end, vote for him anyway.

FADEL: Did Trump seem to acknowledge those ardent anti-abortion rights supporters in this message?

KURTZLEBEN: Yes, he uses this very particular phrase. He says, follow your heart. This is a message he has used on abortion throughout his campaign. Now, when he says that he seems to mean, if you happen to support tighter laws, fewer exceptions than I do, that's your choice. I'm OK with that but this is what I support. So he seems to kind of be reaching out to them, but he is also quite clearly trying to win over voters alienated by those GOP abortion policies. He started off the announcement by talking about IVF. That's a very popular procedure that was threatened in Alabama recently. But he said we must win. He knows very much that this has been a liability for Republicans.

FADEL: NPR political correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben. Thank you, Danielle.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.
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