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Froma Harrop: Trump's extremism on abortion cannot be hid

Not for one minute do we think that Trump cares one way or another about abortion. He used to be very much pro-choice.

Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop

Ron DeSantis had it coming, but Donald Trump's attempts to paint the Florida governor as a scarier right-winger than he is deserve to fail. What DeSantis has done in Florida โ€” virtually ban all access to abortion โ€” Trump has come close to doing to the entire country. Trump is just better at playing all sides.

Trump said that the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a basic right to abortion, was bad for Republicans. He was right about that, witness recent lopsided pro-choice votes in Kansas and Wisconsin, not exactly liberal strongholds. And the public's unhappiness only grows as Roe's fall unleashes the right's war against reproductive rights in shocking ways.

"Some people maybe say it's my fault," Trump has said.
As a candidate in 2016, Trump promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe. And he did. His three justices provided the majority that took down Roe.

The strongest argument for ending Roe was that states should make abortion policy. At first, it worked that way. States supportive of abortion rights kept abortion rights. Those opposed, limited or ended them.

However, Matthew Kacsmaryk, a U.S. District Judge in Amarillo, Texas, plowed through the states-should-describe thing by ruling that the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the abortion pill mifepristone was improper. If it holds, that would mean that no one in America could have access to the most frequently used means of abortion, including in states were abortion remains legal.

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Kacsmaryk was showing Trumpian contempt for medical expertise. It is unclear whether he ever took a biology class and unsettling that his sources for declaring the abortion pill unsafe included anonymous blog posts. This is the first time a court invalidated a drug approved by the FDA.

How did Kacsmaryk get his judgeship for life? Trump nominated him.

Not for one minute do we think that Trump cares one way or another about abortion. He used to be very much pro-choice.

No matter. Trump characteristically blamed Republicans' midterm letdowns, several tied to the abortion issue, on others. "It wasn't my fault that the Republicans didn't live up to expectations in the midterms," he wrote on his social media platform. "It was the 'abortion issue.'" He specifically blamed those who insisted on no exceptions in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother.

As for DeSantis, there were no exceptions in the bill he signed last year lowering the time limit for ending a pregnancy to 15 weeks from 24 weeks. But 93% of abortions in this country occur in the first 13 weeks, so a 15-week window would not stop most women's ability to end a pregnancy. It could have been regarded as a sensible tightening of the rules. (Progressive countries in Europe have set similar restrictions.)

But then DeSantis did great self-harm by throwing out the 15-week window and signing a new bill that forbade abortion after six weeks. Many women are late or miss a period for a variety of reasons and don't assume that they are pregnant. Six weeks is, for all intents and purposes, a ban on abortion.

Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly favor some access to abortion, including 64% of Floridians. It's now unclear that DeSantis could get reelected governor of Florida, much less win the presidency.

Neither DeSantis nor Trump nor countless other Republicans would be battling these headwinds had Trump not ensured that Roe would be overturned. But what makes Trump's extremism scarier is that he was actually elected president. DeSantis is a diminishing threat.

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This new chaos being forced on women and their families is Trump's fault. And more than "some people" believe it.

Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work is published regularly in the Grand Forks Herald.

Froma Harrop covers the waterfront of politics, economics and culture with an unconventional approach. She takes public policy quite seriously. Herself, less so.


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