Trump’s brags on banning abortion could haunt him in Arizona | Phoenix New Times

Trump’s brags on banning abortion could haunt him in Arizona

The former president took credit for overturning Roe v. Wade, which could be his undoing in the Grand Canyon State.
Former President Donald Trump and Kari Lake are flip-flopping over abortion after a 160-year-old ban was reinstated in Arizona.
Former President Donald Trump and Kari Lake are flip-flopping over abortion after a 160-year-old ban was reinstated in Arizona. Mario Tama / Getty Images

Local News is Vital to Our Community

When you support our community-rooted newsroom, you enable all of us to be better informed, connected, and empowered during this important election year. Give now and help us raise $5,000 by June 7.

Support local journalism

Share this:
If ever there were a case study on shameless right-wing political hypocrisy and opportunism, abortion would be the issue and Arizona would be the setting. And women’s rights over their bodies would be all but marginal in the equation.

Former President Donald Trump recently made a mockery of his public insistence that states should determine their own abortion laws. Now, fearing his election bid could face political fallout from the Arizona Supreme Court’s reinstatement on April 9 of a harsh 1864 ban, Trump forced his way into the debate. He pushed Republican state legislators, in what The New York Times called a “frantically worded post online,” to pass an immediate repeal of the law.

Trump, who as president appointed the three U.S. Supreme Court justices who got rid of Roe v. Wade, is up against public opinion. A Gallup poll shows 85% of Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances. A March Wall Street Journal poll found that 59% of Arizonans support abortion rights.

Trump’s entreaties to the lawmakers were rebuffed Wednesday when the House Republican majority wouldn’t even let a vote on repeal be held, showing they could be equally opportunistic where abortion is concerned. Those seeking reelection clearly worried more about their hardline right-wing voting bases than about the cruelty of the law: No exceptions for pregnant rape victims or malformed fetuses; two to five years in prison for anyone who assisted in the abortion.

Significantly in this case, those lawmakers worried less about displeasing the so-called “standard-bearer” of the party, whose blessings most Republican office-seekers have been coveting.

Trump’s positions on abortion were never rooted in values or beliefs, pro or con. They were all across the board, depending on which group he was trying to curry favor with. Yet in 2016, Trump got 81% of the votes of white evangelical Christians.

The reason might be explained by a film clip from Rob Reiner’s documentary “God & Country,” about the growing strength of Christian nationalism. The setting is Liberty University where Trump, campaigning before a crowd, talks of being a devout Christian and tells them Christianity is under siege. He says Christians could be the strongest lobby group ever if they used their vast lobbying power.

That seems to have been enough to make them forgive the womanizing, the language he used in reference to grabbing women he didn’t know and his previous statements in support of choice. The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by people claiming Trump’s election was stolen was rife with flags and symbols of Christian nationalism.

As for Trump’s double-speak on abortion:

In 1999, exploring a run for president, he told then “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert he was “very pro-choice” despite hating the “concept” of abortion. Trump said he wouldn’t ban even third-trimester abortions. To explain his position, he said he was a product of liberal New York.

In 2015, as a Republican presidential candidate, Trump said his views had evolved to oppose abortions and gave this reason: Friends had a “superstar” child they had once planned to abort.

The following March, eight months before the election, he went so far as to tell MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment” — amending that after the show to put the punishment on doctors.

As president, Trump signed an order blocking U.S. funding for organizations providing any abortion services. Having previously praised Planned Parenthood, he also signed a bill allowing states to withhold federal funding from organizations that provide abortions.
click to enlarge
Sen. T.J. Shope, Sen. Shawnna Bolick and Rep. Matt Gress are Republican state lawmakers who are flip-flopping on an abortion ban reinstated by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Arizona State Legislature

GOP ‘out of step with Arizonans’ on abortion

Then there’s Trump ally Kari Lake, Arizona’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, who shares his knack for being on both sides of the issue. In 2022, when running for governor, referencing Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban, she told conservative radio host James T. Harris she was “incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that’s already on the books.” She also expressed hope that Arizona would "be paving the way for other states to follow.

But now, faced with signs of her support slipping — the Arizona Senate race now leans Democratic, according to The Hill — Lake denounced the state Supreme Court’s abortion ban reinstatement, calling it “out of step with Arizonans.” Also like Trump, Lake has asked Arizona state lawmakers to come up with a solution.

Far from coming up with one, House Republicans are running in the opposite direction, even if that means disregarding Trump’s appeals. State Rep. Matt Gress and Sens. T.J. Shope and Shawnna Bolick have all said in the past that they’d ban abortions in Arizona. Since the law’s reinstatement, they’ve said they’d probably repeal it if they had the chance. Now they’re stuck in place.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision ending Roe v. Wade in June 2022, 14 states have made abortion illegal. With Arizona’s ban conjuring up the prospect of a “Handmaid’s Tale” type of world for women, Arizona abortion rights advocates say they already have 500,000 signatures — they only need 384,000 by July 3 — to get an abortion rights constitutional amendment initiative on the November ballot.

Trump’s many brags taking credit for the overturning of Roe v. Wade may be coming back to haunt him. There’s only so far that opportunism can take you, and Arizona could be his undoing.
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Phoenix New Times has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.