Trump Tries to Convince Anti-Abortion Voters that He Is for Real. Again.

He plans to sign a 20-week abortion ban, defund Planned Parenthood and more if elected.

Seth Wenig/AP

Donald Trump cemented his conversion to an opponent of abortion—and extended his outreach to pro-life voters—with an announcement Friday of the formation of his campaign’s pro-life coalition. The coalition will be headed by Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent anti-abortion advocacy group.

For Dannenfelser, this is the culmination of a rapid evolution on Trump’s candidacy. In January, she signed on to a letter from pro-life leaders complaining that they were “disgusted” by Trump’s treatment of women and that Trump could not be trusted to “defend both unborn children and the dignity of women.” The letter explicitly urged voters “to support an alternative candidate.” 

In the past month, Dannenfelser has been forthright about the fact that Trump might be a liability for anti-abortion candidates for lower offices. Because Trump was recently a supporter of abortion rights, anti-abortion advocates have worried that skepticism about his pro-life bona fides might discourage conservative voters from going to the polls. This concern about the inconsistency of Trump’s anti-abortion stance has led the Susan B. Anthony List to spend heavily on efforts to turn out pro-life voters in battleground Senate and House races in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Utah.

In a letter announcing the coalition, Trump reinforced his commitment to the three main promises on abortion that he’s repeated throughout the election: to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to sign into law a 20-week abortion ban that stalled in the Senate in 2015.

Trump also made a new, fourth commitment: to enshrine the Hyde Amendment—a provision that prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion—into permanent law. Hillary Clinton has said she will work to repeal the Hyde Amendment, and this year’s Democratic platform included language on a Hyde repeal for the first time ever.

The Trump campaign made the announcement of the pro-life coalition in a letter released Friday. Additional co-chairs of the groups will be announced later this month.


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