Trump Moves to Center on Abortion: Says He Opposes Heartbeat Bans, Wants Compromise

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated Sep 19, 2023
Trump Moves to Center on Abortion: Says He Opposes Heartbeat Bans, Wants Compromise

Former president Donald Trump received pushback from prominent pro-life leaders over the weekend when he said he opposes Florida's heartbeat abortion ban and added that he wants to work toward a nationwide compromise on the issue, perhaps around 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The comments on NBC's Meet the Press by the leading Republican candidate were to the left of the other GOP contenders and indicated he is looking to move to the middle on the issue as he heads toward a possible rematch in 2024 with President Joe Biden.

Trump made the remarks after Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker asked him if he would sign a federal bill that banned abortion at 15 weeks.

"I 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," Trump replied. "I'm not going to say I would or wouldn't. I mean [DeSantis] was willing to sign a five week and six week ban."

"Would you sign that?" Welker asked.

"I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake," Trump answered.

The law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis bans abortion when an unborn baby's heartbeat is detected, which is typically around six weeks of pregnancy. It includes exceptions for rape, incest and the mother's life.

Trump said his solution could come at the federal or state level.

"It could be state or it could be federal, I don't frankly care," he said. "... I'm almost like a mediator in this case. They wanted Roe v. Wade terminated because it was inappropriate. We got it done. Something's going to happen. It's going to be a number of weeks, something's going to happen, where both sides are going to be able to come together. And then we'll be able to go into other things like the economy, our military."

Most Democrats, he said, "don't want to be radical on the issue." He added he supports exceptions for rape, incest and the mother's life.

"I think the Republicans speak very inarticulately about this subject," he said, referencing Republicans who oppose exceptions.

"I watched some of them. … I said, 'Other than certain parts of the country, you can't, you're not going to win on this issue. But you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks.'"

Lila Rose, founder and president of the pro-life group Live Action, called Trump's comments "pathetic and unacceptable."

"Trump is actively attacking the very pro-life laws made possible by Roe's overturning," she said. "Heartbeat Laws have saved thousands of babies."

Conservative host Liz Wheeler said Trump "should fire whatever idiot advisor told him to go squishy on abortion."

"Dumb move," Wheeler wrote. "Abortion zealots are never gonna vote Trump just because he's willing to 'compromise.' And innocent babies will be killed in the process. Lose lose."

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressed Trump's comments on his podcast, The Briefing.

"If the Republican Party loses its pro-life convictions, if indeed they are convictions, if it hesitates or compromises on pro-life policy, I think you're going to see conservative Christians just back out of support for the Republican Party," Mohler said. "This is a sine qua non. Just ask Ronald Reagan in 1980."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Brandon Bell/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.