With the Iowa caucuses a week away, Donald Trump is making an effort to shore up his support among social conservatives who have a lot of reasons to be skeptical about his claims of devotion.
As part of that effort, his campaign published an op-ed under his name in the Washington Examiner on Saturday articulating his views on abortion. As has been the case with Trump’s platform more generally, it reads like a dumbed-down and simplified version of what Republicans have been saying for thirty years, making explicit what had previously been implicit in GOP presidential candidates’ platforms.
With respect to abortion and reproductive health more generally, that means going beyond simply arguing that Roe v Wade was wrongly decided and instead rejecting its very premise. As Trump’s ghostwriter wrote:
The Supreme Court in 1973 based its decision on imagining rights and liberties in the Constitution that are nowhere to be found. Even if we take the court at its word, that abortion is a matter of privacy, we should then extend the argument to the logical conclusion that private funds, then, should subsidize this choice rather than the half billion dollars given to abortion providers every year by Congress. Public funding of abortion providers is an insult to people of conscience at the least and an affront to good governance at best.
This is actually a really smart paragraph from whomever wrote Trump’s article — even if it’s implications are positively horrifying. It both rejects the concept of a right to privacy, which can very easily be found in the Constitution, and makes the Republican case for defunding Planned Parenthood plain.
Republican candidates and representatives often trip over themselves claiming that the federal government currently funds abortion, which it doesn’t. The Hyde Amendment’s made sure of that. But of course, that isn’t the issue for Republican voters. Since the federal government reimburses Planned Parenthood for the non-abortive services it provides Medicaid enrollees, federal funds are going to an organization that also happens to provide abortions. And since that money all goes onto the same balance sheet, those voters have little patience for an explanation as to how the accounting works.
That’s why when you ask anti-Planned Parenthood activists what gets them out of bed in the morning, abortion isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, it’s just one part of a larger framework that’s deeply worried about reproductive health, sexual freedom and gender equality more generally. Here’s Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society arguing that “even if Planned Parenthood didn’t perform one single abortion” they still shouldn’t receive any federal funding:
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Donald Trump has taken a good, long look at Republican politics and (correctly) concluded that the average Republican voter sees no difference between the federal government paying for abortions and the federal government reimbursing abortion providers for non-abortive services. He has also (correctly) concluded that the average Republican voter thinks that the right to privacy ends exactly where their politics begins.
He’s getting really good at this. I don’t see how Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush beats him at this point.