In 1999, Donald Trump claimed to be “pro-choice in every respect”, to the point he would have opposed a ban on late-term and partial-birth abortions. His position at that time reflected the extreme edges of abortion ideology. A mere 14 percent of Americans believe third-trimester abortions should be legal.
But Trump has since switched sides, a move that makes sense in today’s political climate. Since the 1990s, abortion has become one of the starkest and most consistent lines of demarcation between Democrats and Republicans. It is virtually inconceivable that a Democrat opposing abortion or a Republican supporting legal abortion could win the respective party’s presidential nomination.
In a debate last year, Trump claimed he had “evolved” on the issue of the abortion. “I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life,” the GOP candidate said.
But the way Trump described his “evolution” from the pro-choice to pro-life position raises some interesting questions.
He said: “Friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances.”
Now, I’m one who cheers whenever someone publicly switches from supporting abortion rights to supporting human rights for all — including the unborn. I am glad to see people like Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, or Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, become pro-life activists.
But I find it difficult to cheer Trump’s conversion, because the reason he gives for being pro-life doesn’t correspond to the pro-life ethic.