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Trump sparks backlash from major anti-abortion group over campaign comments

SBA Pro-Life America said Trump's position that abortion policies should be decided at the state level was "morally indefensible."
President Donald Trump exits the Oval Office and walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on September 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a campaign event.
Then-President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 22, 2020.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

A leading anti-abortion group blasted former President Donald Trump on Thursday after his campaign said he believes states should decide abortion laws.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America issued a scathing response to a statement the Trump campaign made to The Washington Post when asked whether Trump supported the six-week abortion ban that a likely 2024 opponent, Gov. Ron DeSantis, signed into law in Florida.

“President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the state level,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told the Post.

SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser blasted Trump by name in a statement Thursday after the story was published.

“President Trump’s assertion that the Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion solely to the states is a completely inaccurate reading of the Dobbs decision and is a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold,” Dannenfelser said.

“We will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard,” she added.

After reaching out to Cheung for comment, a Trump spokesperson responded by saying, “Our focus here should be on saving lives and avoiding the Radical Left’s traps, not on dividing the pro-life community."

The spokesperson also reiterated Trump's position that states should be the decision-makers on abortion.

"Even though much work remains to be done to defend the cause of life, President Trump believes it is in the States where the greatest advances can now take place to protect the unborn," the spokesperson said.

Until Thursday, Trump had largely kept quiet on the issue of abortion, with his campaign avoiding questions about his views on the new Florida law.

The response from SBA Pro-Life America underscores the challenges facing Republicans who are seeking their party's nomination next year. GOP candidates are struggling to navigate conservative members of the base who want strict rules against abortion and those who want the procedure to be legal in all or most cases.

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who was also Trump’s United Nations ambassador, would not say whether she would sign a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks shortly after she launched her presidential campaign in February. “We need consensus on this,” Haley told NBC’s “TODAY” show at the time.

Another declared GOP presidential candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, told the Iowa Capitol-Dispatch last week that letting states decide on abortion was “the right way under our system of federalism.” He also said that if a nationwide abortion ban bill were to reach his desk as president, he “would want to look at the bill to see exactly what it does.”