Trump’s abortion punt

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An adjudicated rapist, who was recently held liable by a jury for physically invading a woman’s bodily autonomy, has now taken it upon himself to opine about how government can control women’s bodily autonomy.

Before we even begin to analyze Donald Trump’s announcement of his stance on abortion this week, we do need to stipulate it’s as worthless as soiled tissue. This guy’s only fixed principle is saving his own rear, and whatever he’s saying now about abortion may well be junked if or when it strikes his fancy to mouth something else.

All stipulations aside, it is truly delicious to see Trump taking heat from all sides on an issue that has dogged him politically ever since his hand-crafted high court erased Roe v. Wade. The forced-birth zealots on the extreme right are furious that his newly-announced stance that states should decide abortion rights doesn’t go far enough to control women’s personal lives. Meanwhile, mainstream American leaders, starting with President Biden, are eviscerating him for going too far.

Trump congratulated himself for being “the person responsible” for ending Roe (true), claimed “all legal scholars, both sides” wanted to end Roe (a blatant lie), claimed Democrats support “execution after birth” (a blatant lie), then proceeded to punt the whole thing.

“The states will determine [what to do]. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land. In this case, the law of the state,” Trump said this week. “Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks [when abortion is permitted], or some will have more conservative than others, and that’s what they will be.”

What a wimp. He thinks he can just wash his hands of the mess he made and waddle away.

His cowardice won’t wash with the American mainstream, which solidly supports choice. According to a February poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, 67 percent of independents – and even 43 percent of Republicans – favor federally-guaranteed abortion rights. Trump is basically saying that if a state wants to oppress women, he’s fine with that. Post-Roe, 14 states already ban virtually all abortions, and seven more impose severe restrictions – in other words, he’s fine with the reality that women in nearly half the states are deprived of personal freedom simply by dint of their geographical status.

He also said in a social media post that as a candidate, he can’t support a national ban on abortion because it would damage his chances of getting elected. But he never ruled out signing such a national ban if a new Republican Congress were to pass it and send it to his desk in a second Trump reign. Because this grifter will say or do anything as befits the moment – like in 1999 when he announced a presidential exploratory committee (yes he did!) and told NBC News, “I just believe in choice,” and, on the other hand, in 2016 when he said that women who exercise choice and have abortions should face “some form of punishment.”

Meanwhile, his new wobble has incurred the wrath of right-wing extremists. They’re steamed that he’s refusing to explicitly endorse a national ban and that he’s apparently fine with blue states protecting the right to choose. Pass the popcorn, please.

The president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said her followers are “deeply disappointed” with Trump. Mike Pence, having escaped the noose, wrote on social media: “President Trump’s retreat on the Right to Life is a slap in the face to the millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him in 2016 and 2020.” And prominent podcaster and anti-abortion activist Lila Rose wrote that Trump “is not a pro-life candidate,” calling his current position “cowardly.”

To which I say: Great! Don’t vote for him. Stay home in November. Tell your fellow zealots to do the same.

When Trump punted to the states, he decreed: “We have taken the abortion issue largely out of play.” The truth is precisely the reverse. Look at what happened today in Arizona, where the state Supreme Court decreed an almost total ban on abortions. Arizona is a swing state, and now, thanks to Trump’s erasure of Roe, more women will be galvanized to vote blue in November.

Way to go, political genius. By rigging the high court to erase a 50-year precedent that encoded the freedom of women to control their bodies, Trump sowed the wind. Now he’s reaping the whirlwind.

Copyright 2024 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at [email protected]