Opinion | Anyone Who Thinks Trump Is Done With Abortion Is a Fool

Compared with the mounting push from anti-abortion activists to ban the procedure nationwide, however, Trump’s stance is designed to look almost moderate. And if you were born yesterday, you could even say that Trump was beginning his pivot to the center, to blur the difference on abortion between himself and other Republicans. If he can persuade skeptical voters that he’s not a Mike Pence or a Ron DeSantis, then he’s one step closer to a second term.

But there’s no reason to take Trump’s rhetoric at face value. Trump is aware, like virtually everyone who follows American politics, that Republicans are dangerously vulnerable on abortion rights. The Biden campaign has already begun airing ads that blame Trump directly for abortion bans. He knows that he needs to neutralize this issue as much as possible, without alienating his anti-abortion followers. When it looked, for example, as though support for a 15-week ban would do the trick, Trump floated support for a 15-week ban.

It does not require any particular powers of political analysis to see that Monday’s statement is a ploy — and an obvious one at that. What does Trump say immediately before giving his states’ rights position on abortion? He praises himself for ending Roe: “Many people have asked me what my position is on abortion and abortion rights, especially since I was proudly the person responsible for the ending of something that all legal scholars, both sides, wanted and, in fact, demanded be ended: Roe v. Wade.” This claim, that all sides wanted an end to Roe, is a total fabrication, but it serves to give Trump cover as he tries to be all things to all people.

Later in the video, as if to emphasize his responsibility for the end of Roe, Trump applauds the Dobbs majority, by name no less: “I want to thank the six justices — Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch, incredible people — for having the courage to allow this long-term, hard-fought battle to finally end.”

Trump is saying what he thinks his audience — in the public and in the press — wants to hear. He’s trying to put abortion in the rearview mirror, to treat it as a settled fact that he wants a less strident approach to reproductive rights.

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