Trump waffles on whether he'd limit reproductive rights

Plus, the remaking of a state party.

Top Headlines

Trump doesn’t rule out contraception restrictions

Former President Donald Trump continues to equivocate on the question of abortion, birth control and other reproductive rights, as a recent local television station interview showed.

During a television interview with the Pittsburgh-based KDKA station on Tuesday, Trump was asked if he would support any contraceptive bans. The former president — who’s been resistant to taking a strong position on reproductive healthcare due to the unpopularity of restrictions — provided little clarity on the matter. 

“We’re looking at that, and I’m going to have a policy on that very shortly and I think it’s something that you’ll find interesting,” Trump told John Delano of the CBS affiliate station.  

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Trump has been wary of calling for federal bans on abortion or contraceptives. Rather, he’s stressed the need for states to decide on such matters. However, when Arizona Republicans attempted to revitalize an ancient state law that would have been a complete abortion ban, he said such politics went “too far.”

(It is also important to note that Project 2025, a policy outline for a future Trump administration by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, has said “abortion pills pose the single greatest threat to unborn children in a post-Roe world” and wants to Trump to instruct the FDA to “reverse its approval” of said drugs.)  

Conversely, Trump has been eager to take credit for the Supreme Court’s ruling, which proved especially popular with his base. “We did something that everybody said couldn’t be done: We got rid of Roe v Wade…” he added during the Pittsburgh interview. 

Trump has also made it a point to instead demonize pro-abortion positions. On the campaign trail, he has said that Democrats support the non-existent “post-birth abortion.” 

“If the radical Democrat extremists get their way,” Trump said at a New Jersey rally last Saturday. “They will have a federal law — an abortion in the eighth and ninth month, and even executing the baby after birth.”

Local Lens

In Michigan, MAGA Republicans have completely remade the state’s GOP.

In the short term, it would appear that it benefited Democrats: Both the Republican nominees for attorney general and secretary of state — election deniers Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo, respectively — were trounced in Michigan’s 2022 statewide elections. Their nomination was a product of a strategy that local conservative activists had adopted from Trump guru Steve Bannon, who encouraged loyalists to commandeer state-level Republican Party infrastructure by becoming precinct delegates, which are often left unfilled. 

While the scoreboard of 2022 might indicate the efficacy of Bannon’s approach, it has permanently reshaped the composition of the GOP’s ground game.

As new reporting in ProPublica shows, this has meant the normalization of the most fringe reactionary positions. Issues such as the COVID-19 lockdown, fraudulent claims of liberal electioneering and the downplaying of the efforts on Jan. 6 have become a litmus test for any average person hoping to get involved in local politics.   

This has led to the destruction of the vaunted “old-school” Republican, especially in the Wolverine State. 

“This phenomenon is evident across the country, in Georgia and Nevada, in Arizona, Idaho and Florida. But it’s perhaps the starkest in Michigan, a place long associated with political pragmatism and a business-friendly GOP, embodied by governors George Romney, John Engler and, most recently, Rick Snyder,” explains ProPublica reporter Andy Kroll. 

The end of those halcyon days of water crises and privatization may be behind us — and replaced with an incompetent, erratic leadership more concerned with ghost-catching than running a party — but the sentiments within this recent Republican evolution are nothing to scoff at. As more and more people become frustrated with the uneven, if marginally improving, economy, such grievances could be easily captured by the pseudo-populism of the modern conservative movement. 

This is not to encourage those on the left to become paranoid or nervous but to suggest that any gains made in 2020 and 2022 should not be taken for granted. Nor should the very reasonable frustrations of the median voter be dismissed outright. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate the opposition. 

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Jamie Larson