Trump’s New Dilemma
On 14th May, twenty-five male Republican senators in Alabama approved the most stringent abortion law to date in America. That weekend, the Alabama State Government became a large-scale parade stage for protesters to defend abortion rights. The abortion law finally signed by Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay, prohibiting abortion at every stage of the pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest. Moreover, abortion is considered to be homicidal under the new abortion law and doctors who violate the law will face up to 99 years of prison. The new legislation would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, was an important decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. This legislation made abortion a constitutional right across the country. It provided a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a woman’s liberty to end a pregnancy. However, currently, at least 28 states in the U.S. have introduced different degrees of restrictions on female abortion. Georgia, Ohio, North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, and Mississippi prohibit abortions from the moment the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, while Missouri prohibits women from seeking abortion procedure that are eight weeks into pregnancy. The recent state law changes had sparked anger among protestors who support abortion. They vowed to fight through the district and appeal the court – until the Supreme Court. The U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on May 19 that he was “strongly Pro-Life”, and there were “three exceptions – Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother”. He also highlighted that he is in the same position as Ronald Reagan in anti-abortion. However, Trump was not always an advocate for anti-abortion. In his early political life in New York City, Trump favoured abortion rights and supported Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider.
A more conservative U.S. Supreme Court
Since Trump became the president of the United States, the Supreme Court has become conservative. It was reported that in the 2016 election campaign, Trump promised his supporters that he would implement conservative judges who oppose abortion on federal courts. This might explain why conservative Christians would support the thrice-married Trump. The president then appointed two conservative judges, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Both of the two judges have announced that they would not overturn Roe v. Wade, but have voted to restrict abortion access in the country. Until now, five of the nine judges have been appointed by Republican presidents, and the rest by Democrats.
The current majority of conservative judges have become a new hope for the anti-abortion camp to seek re-evaluation of the legality of abortion. In fact, many of the states where the new abortion law had seriously violated the decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which was to guarantee the right to abortion of American women. Therefore, it is expected that these would be restricted by the Supreme Court soon. However, the anti-abortion group hopes that this battle could reach the Supreme Court, hoping to overturn the above landmark decision in 1973. According to that judgment, women could voluntarily abort within 24 weeks.
Trump calling for staying united
Last year, one poll from NBC/Wall Street Journal showed that 71% of Americans did not believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned, including 52% of Republicans. This was the highest figure since 2005. Another poll showed that the issue of abortion may provoke political participation from both Democrats and Republicans. It revealed that 64% of Democrats supported the idea that a woman should be able to have an abortion for any reason, while the figure for Republicans was only 35%.
However, after Alabama introduced the new abortion law, disagreement among Republicans became apparent and the president worried that Democrats would take advantage of this issue. Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Warren called on U.S. Congress to pass a law to guarantee abortion rights. Warren commented that this was a “dark moment” and it’s time to fight back. Trump tweeted on that weekend (May 19) and indicated if they (the anti-abortion groups) didn’t stay united, all of their hard-fought gains for life could disappear. The president also mentioned that they had “come very far” on the anti-abortion front in more than two years since he took power in the White House.
In the wake of the upcoming re-election in 2020, Trump attempted to walk a fine line between the conservatives and the angering women. He tweeted that “We must stick together and Win for Life in 2020” to urge Republicans to unite together and prevent Democrats from winning. Unfortunately, the controversy had sparked protests on both sides of the debate, Trump has to be cautious about his line.
By Steven Gao
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