Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned pro-lifers that Donald Trump will “sell you out” after the former president called for a compromise on abortion and lambasted the Sunshine State’s heartbeat law as a “terrible mistake.”
“If he’s going into this saying he’s going to make the Democrats happy with respect to right to life, I think all pro-lifers should know that he’s preparing to sell you out,” Mr. DeSantis said Monday on Radio Iowa.
Mr. Trump has been hailed on the right as the most pro-life president in modern U.S. history, which is why abortion foes were taken aback by his recent comments on elective pregnancy termination.
Mr. Trump said Sunday he wanted to “come up with a number that’s going to make people happy,” referring to gestational limits on elective abortion, but that the heartbeat law signed by Mr. DeSantis was a “terrible mistake.”
“I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,” Mr. Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we’ll come up with a number. But at the same time, Democrats won’t be able to go out at six months, seven months, eight months, and allow an abortion.”
Nearly half the states have enacted gestational limits on abortion such as heartbeat bills, which prohibit most abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, or six to eight weeks’ gestation.
🔥 LISTEN: DeSantis reacts to Trump pledging to appease Democrats in a second term.
“It’s a window into how he’s changing as he’s running this campaign…I’ve given him credit for his accomplishments…but anytime he did a deal with Democrats whether it was on budget, whether it… pic.twitter.com/ZZ18SREGVw
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 18, 2023
Live Action President Lila Rose declared flatly that “Trump should not be the GOP nominee.”
“Pathetic and unacceptable,” she said. “Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe’s overturning. Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies. But Trump wants to compromise on babies’ lives so pro-abort Dems ‘like him.’”
CatholicVote President Brian Burch warned that “President Trump’s comments over the weekend have sparked concerns among Catholics over whether he is committed to leading on this issue in the way he did during his first term,”
“Pro-life Catholics helped deliver him the White House in 2016, and a record number of votes in 2020. He cannot expect to win again without these same voters,” Mr. Burch said.
Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life Action, tweeted: “Hey @realDonaldTrump, protecting human life at 5 or 6 weeks isn’t a ‘terrible thing’… it’s the right thing.”
States like Iowa, Florida, and South Carolina passed legislation protecting unborn babies with heartbeats from abortion. But instead of supporting the pro-life movement, Trump is attacking these successes as “terrible.” pic.twitter.com/W0O4BwFQdq
— Never Back Down (@NvrBackDown24) September 19, 2023
Mr. Trump criticized Republican messaging on abortion, saying that they won’t win on the issue outside of conservative enclaves unless they reach a compromise on gestational limits.
An Associated Press-NORC Poll conducted in June found that 73% agreed that abortion should be allowed through the first six weeks of pregnancy, but only half supported the procedure through 15 weeks and just 27% favored allowing abortion through 24 weeks’ gestation.
Democratic lawmakers have been largely unwilling to discuss gestational limits, but Mr. Trump said most Democratic voters oppose late-term abortion, and Republicans “will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks.”
“Because Democrats don’t want to be radical on the issue,” he said. “Most of them, some do. They don’t want to be radical on the issue. They don’t want to kill a baby in the seventh month or the ninth month or after birth. And they’re allowed to do that, and you can’t do that.”
Mr. Trump appeared receptive to the idea of a 15-week gestational limit, but said that “from a legal standpoint, I think it’s probably better” to handle it at the state level.
The problem? Virtually every red state has passed legislation barring most abortions before 15 weeks, in some cases from the moment of conception. Leading pro-life groups have called for federal legislation establishing a 15-week limit as a national minimum standard, not a replacement for state laws.
“Florida, Ohio, Georgia, and Iowa all have the sort of pro-life laws that Trump is now condemning. How would he have those states please everyone in the debate?” asked National Review in a Sunday editorial. “Would he sign a law forcing them to allow abortions after six weeks?”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said that anything later than a 15-week federal ceiling “makes no sense.”
“Trump is criticizing a law and lawmaker that acted, following the will of the people, on what he made possible through the Dobbs Decision,” she said. “Both Trump and DeSantis should focus on their concrete pro-life plan for the future and contrast that with Biden. He is their opponent.”
Mr. Trump said he would “sit down with both sides and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years,” but pro-lifers said it sounds as if he plans to sell them down the river.
“This isn’t pro-life; it’s pro-compromise,” said Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon. “And when you compromise between right and wrong, wrong always wins.”
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life said that “every pro-life governor who courageously signed heartbeat protections was re-elected in 2022.”
“There is no reason why any politician, particularly one who claims to be pro-life, cannot support lifesaving measures, with at least a minimum 15-week federal standard which protects children past the point at which they can feel pain,” she said. “It is the right, compassionate and even popular thing to do.”
Conservative podcaster Matt Walsh called Mr. Trump’s response an “awful answer from a moral perspective” and “stupid politically.”
“There is no compromise on abortion that everyone will like. It’s delusional to think otherwise,” said Mr. Walsh. “And contrary to Trump’s claims, almost all Democrats are indeed extreme on this issue. You will be hard-pressed to find more than maybe two or three on the national stage who don’t want abortion until birth or beyond.”
Mr. Trump also said he favors exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Every state allows abortion to save the life of the mother.