Trump’s Own Vice President Hits Him On New Abortion Position

Mike Pence was chosen as Trump's running mate in 2016 to win over evangelical Christians who were skeptical of the New York celebrity game show host.

WASHINGTON — The running mate Donald Trump brought on board to win over skeptical evangelical Christians eight years ago on Monday lashed out at the former president’s new statement on abortion.

“President Trump’s retreat on the right to life is a slap in the face to the millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him in 2016 and 2020,” former Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a social media post, hours after Trump released a video saying that the matter was now in the hands of state governments where it belonged, and that, besides, Republicans need to adopt a message that lets them win elections.

Pence, who was nearly attacked by a mob of Trump’s followers on Jan. 6, 2021, angry at him for not helping Trump’s coup attempt, has already stated that he will not endorse Trump in November’s election because he cannot support someone who put himself above the Constitution.

Monday’s comment was specifically about Trump’s new statement after having claimed since 2015 that he was “pro-life.”

“The American people elect presidents, senators and congressmen, and a majority of Americans long to see minimum national protections for the unborn in federal law,” Pence wrote. “But today, too many Republican politicians are all too ready to wash their hands of the battle for life. Republicans win on life when we speak the truth boldly and stand on the principle that we all know to be true — human life begins at conception and should be defended from womb to tomb.”

Trump’s campaign did not respond to a HuffPost query.

Then-President Donald Trump arrives with then-Vice President Mike Pence for a Make America Great Again rally at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan on Nov. 2, 2020.
Then-President Donald Trump arrives with then-Vice President Mike Pence for a Make America Great Again rally at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan on Nov. 2, 2020.

Trump chose Pence as his running mate in 2016 largely to assuage Christian conservative voters troubled by Trump’s history of crude remarks about and behavior with women and an uneven history on the abortion issue. Pence had a long history as a devout Christian and abortion opponent in his years in Congress and as governor of Indiana. Trump that year also famously outsourced his potential Supreme Court nominations, promising to choose only names cleared by anti-abortion groups and the Federalist Society.

It was one of the few major promises Trump did keep in his four years in office, and his three additions to the court were determinative in overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Ironically, Trump’s new position — apart from essentially telling Republicans that they cannot win elections on the platform of imposing more abortion restrictions — was what Pence himself said in the days after the Dobbs decision was leaked in the spring of 2022.

“I really do believe when it comes to issues that are closest and nearest and dearest to American people like the sanctity of human life, that those are best decided by the people and their elected representatives,” Pence told HuffPost at one appearance in South Carolina, explaining why he supported state bans but not a federal one.

“State governments closest to the people I think are best equipped to fashion legislation advancing the sanctity of life and where people can have a fulsome debate about such a profound moral question,” he said at another appearance later the same day.

Both times, he was asked why a federal abortion ban was inappropriate, if, in fact, abortion is murder.

Two years later, Pence supports a national ban and criticizes Trump and others in his party who do not. “However much our Republican nominee or other candidates seek to marginalize the cause of life, I know pro-life Americans will never relent until we see the sanctity of life restored to the center of American law in every state in this country,” Pence wrote.

Trump, who has openly bragged about being the president to finally overturn the national right to an abortion, has now struggled with the demands of many in his party for a national ban of no less than 15 weeks.

Despite this, and despite four criminal indictments against him including two based on his coup attempt, Trump defeated Pence and nearly a dozen other challengers to win his third straight GOP presidential nomination.

A federal indictment on his 2020 election actions could go to trial as early as late August, depending on the timing of a Supreme Court ruling on his claim that he is immune from prosecution. A Georgia state prosecution based on his attempt to overturn his election loss in that state could also start later this year.

A New York state prosecution on charges that he falsified business records to hide hush money payments in the days before the 2016 election is set to begin jury selection next Monday, while a second federal prosecution based on his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him from the White House to his South Florida country club has not yet been set for trial.

And in a separate civil case, a New York jury last found that Trump had sexually penetrated writer E. Jean Carroll against her will in an incident in the 1990s, finding him liable for sexual abuse. The federal judge in the case later clarified that Trump’s actions were rape in the “common modern parlance.”

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