In a series of tweets late Saturday, the president declared himself “strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions – Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on May 15 signed into law a measure passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature that would ban most abortions in the state. Lawmakers rejected a proposal for a rape and incest exception but would allow abortions in cases when a woman’s health is at “serious” risk.
Under the law, which is expected to be challenged, doctors who perform abortions in the state could be charged with a felony and face as much as 99 years in prison.
The Alabama measure, and fresh efforts to restrict abortions in Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and other states this year, has energized the pro-choice movement. At the same time, Democratically controlled states including New York and Rhode Island have passed or are considering measures to protect the right to abortion.
The Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said it will file suit in an effort to keep the state’s new law from taking effect. Ultimately, the issue is expected to work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a strengthened conservative majority after Trump’s appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Two less-sweeping abortion cases will be considered for action when the nation’s highest court issues a list of orders on Monday. In general, reproductive rights are set to be center stage during the coming weeks and months, more than four decades after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional.
Trump compared his position on abortion to that taken by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. He called on Republicans to “stick together” on the issue, adding, ‘if we are foolish and do not stay UNITED as one, all of our hard fought gains for Life can, and will, rapidly disappear!”
Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, said he doesn’t support the Alabama measure and that laws being passed on both sides of the abortion debate are too extreme.
“Something much more towards the center makes a lot more sense,” Romney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Democratic presidential candidates lashed out against Alabama’s actions. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota called the southern state’s law “dangerous” and out of the mainstream.
“I don’t think the majority of Americans are where the Republicans are on this issue right now,” Klobuchar said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Trump has started “an all-out assault on women’s reproductive freedom” that may backfire. “If it’s a fight he wants to have, it’s a fight he’s going to have, and he’s going to lose,” she said.
Gillibrand said she thinks a “surge in women’s votes” seen in the 2018 mid-term elections will continue in 2020 and favor Democrats.
A record number of women lawmakers — mostly Democrats — were elected in November to the current Congress. Exit polls showed that nationally, women voters favored Democrats by 59% to 40% in races for the House of Representatives. Democrats won a majority in the House for the first time since 2010.
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