What Trump’s Recent Abortion Comments Really Mean

You probably woke up this morning to headlines trumpeting the repeal of Roe v. Wade and lamenting president-elect Donald Trump‘s remark that women would “have to go to another state” if a repeal went into effect.

Well, the truth about what Trump said on “60 Minutes” last night is not as shocking as these headlines would have you believe.

Vox.com’s Facebook headline says Trump said, “Roe v. Wade will be repealed,” so that women will have to go to another state for abortion. The first part is untrue and the second part is misleading.

Trump didn’t say he would seek to have Roe v. Wade repealed. What he did was reiterate that he’s pro-life and will seek to appoint pro-life justices. Then, he explained what, hypothetically, would happen if the ruling were repealed.

Literally any other politician or human with an understanding with the law would have said the same thing when asked what would happen if Roe v. Wade were repealed, because those are the facts about how law works.

It was a cowardly and wishy-washy way to respond to the question, yes. But it was not even close to a promise that Roe v. Wade will be repealed.

Here’s what was actually said, according to the Huffington Post’s transcription:

“Having to do with abortion, if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states,” he said in his first post-election interview, on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

“Yeah, but then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?” Lesley Stahl asked.

Trump responded: “Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.”

When Stahl asked if he thought that was acceptable, Trump said to wait and see.

“Well, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.”

First of all, the fact that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, states would then be able to regulate abortion — this is not news. This is just how the law works. Trump confirming that some women in some states might not be able to get abortions in this scenario is also just a statement of fact. It is not a promise that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

The only statement explaining where he stands is his final quote, where he says, “we’ll see what happens” and “it’s got a long way to go.”

The fact is Trump has been evasive about abortion from the jump. He parrots back hypothetical scenarios but never says whether he’ll actually take action on it. He confirmed last night that he’ll try to appoint a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court, but this is far from the anti-abortion mandate people are making it out to be. He’s basically saying he’ll continue to leave it in the hands of the Supreme Court if Roe v. Wade is ever challenged again. The only difference will be that with his appointments, the court will be more conservative than before. This won’t be the first time we’ve had a conservative supreme court, and it also doesn’t necessarily mean anything is going to happen to our abortion rights at the supreme court level.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean we should stop supporting Planned Parenthood and fighting for Roe v. Wade to be maintained if it is challenged, which wouldn’t even happen for at least a year or so, if at all, because Donald Trump doesn’t decide which cases go to the Supreme Court.

But what we should also be doing is understanding what’s actually going on and not crying wolf every time he says the word abortion, ensuring further polarization and people focusing on the wrong things.

Get mad at Trump for evading the question and refusing to admit what actually seems to be the truth, which is that he really doesn’t give two shits about abortion.

By the way, it’s already damn near impossible to get an abortion in many parts of the country and that’s because of state governments, not the president or supreme court. If you really care about abortion rights, there are so many bigger issues than Donald Trump reciting what would happen, hypothetically, if Roe v. Wade were hypothetically challenged and the Supreme Court hypothetically voted to overturn it.

If we want to fight this, we have to understand what’s actually happening.

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