Where the GOP presidential candidates stand on abortion rights

All Republican candidates have declared themselves anti-abortion but have varrying opinions on a federal ban

Ariana Baio
Wednesday 06 December 2023 06:30

DeSantis says he will ‘support pro-life policies’ if elected

The issue of abortion rights in the United States is staring the 2024 GOP presidential candidates in their eyes as they prepare to kick their campaigns into high gear.

Abortion has become a top concern for many voters

Since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark case Roe v Wade (1973) last summer, 21 states have enacted abortion restrictions ranging from a total ban to the point of viability.

Though the anti-abortion stance has long been associated with the Republican Party, it’s an unpopular view with most voters. Approximately 61 per cent of adults in the US believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to Pew Research Center.

As Americans look to next year’s presidential election, undoubtedly, voters will be considering where the Republican nominee stands on abortion when determining who to support.

Here is what each GOP presidential candidate has said on the issue.

Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on 12 August 2023

Donald Trump has never taken a clear-cut stance on the issue of abortion.

The ex-president has repeatedly taken credit for assisting the Supreme Court in overturning Roe v Wade by nominating three conservative justices to the court.

Shortly after the decision was made in June 2022, Mr Trump declared it a “win” and claimed it was only possible because he “delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court”.

Mr Trump has reiterated this claim on his social media platform Truth Social and in interviews.

But the former president has also criticised six-week bans – calling the one his rival, governor Ron DeSantis, signed into the state “terrible”.

Mr Trump has also warned the Republican Party that supporting a six-week ban could sway potential voters in a general election.

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis participates in a Fair Side Chat with Governor Kim Reynolds, at the Iowa State Fair

The Florida governor opposes abortion.

Earlier this year, he told Megyn Kelly he is “proud to be pro-life” though he believes in exceptions in the cases of rape, incest or to save a woman’s life.

Mr DeSantis has reflected these views through Florida legislation by signing a 15-week abortion ban and then earlier this year, he quietly signed a restrictive six-week ban.

Mr DeSantis said he was “proud” to sign the six-week ban when asked about it during the first debate.

However, it is unclear if Mr DeSantis would support a federal abortion ban. When asked if he would during the debate, the Florida governor swerved around a direct answer saying he would “stand on the side of life.”

Mr DeSantis has previously criticised the federal government for protecting the right to abortion saying it was an “abuse of power.” He has also noted that each state has different preferences for abortion limitations.

Nikki Haley

Republican candidate Nikki Haley delivers speech on China in bid to win support

Nikki Haley has taken a more middle-of-the-road stance on abortion by calling for consensus on the issue.

The former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador said she is “unapologetically pro-life” but that abortion is “a very personal issue”.

Rather than tackle a federal ban, Ms Haley said Congress should find common ground among people who are pro-choice and anti-abortion.

“Can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions? Can’t we all agree that we should encourage adoptions? Can’t we all agree that doctors and nurses who don’t believe in abortion shouldn’t have to perform them? Can’t we all agree that contraception should be available? And can’t we all agree that we are not going to put a woman in jail or give her the death penalty if she gets an abortion?” Ms Haley said.

During the Republican debates, Ms Haley scolded her opponents Mike Pence and Mr Scott for not being honest with Americans about the likelihood of a national ban when talking about the subject.

“When it comes to a federal ban, let’s be honest with the American people and say it will take 60 Senate votes,” Ms Haley has said.

Chris Christie

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a town-hall-style event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College

Chris Christie has called himself “pro-life” but his opinion on a federal ban has fluctuated over the last eight years.

In 2015, Mr Christie vocalised support for a 20-week federal ban. But in June, the ex-New Jersey governor told CNN that the issue of abortion should be left to the states only.

"The issue of abortion is not in the Constitution. And the Constitution says if it’s not explicitly said here, this power reverts to the states," Mr Christie said.

"I would not be for the federal government being involved in the issue of abortion in any way. I believe the states should make the decisions."

During the third Republican debate, Mr Christie criticised states, like New Jersey, that allow for late-term abortions and emphasised the need for “pro-life” policies beyond birth – like supporting teenagers and adults with substance use disorder.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to guests at the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner

Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur-turned-politician, said he is anti-abortion but does not believe in a federal ban.

“I am personally pro-life,” Mr Ramaswamy said on the All-In Podcast in July. “I would not support a federal abortion ban.”

Mr Ramaswamy has repeatedly stated that he believes abortion is a state issue, not a federal one.

Instead, he has said he would support the pro-life agenda by implementing legislation that supports contraceptives, adoption, child care and “sexual responsibility for men.”

Asa Hutchinson

Republican presidential candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to guests at the Family Leadership Summit

Asa Hutchinson, the ex-governor of Arkansas, is anti-abortion but believes in exceptions to save a mother’s life and in cases of rape or incest.

He told CNN in April that he would “certainly” sign a federal pro-life bill with those exceptions.

Though he says this, in 2021, Mr Hutchinson signed a trigger bill in Arkansas that made abortion illegal except to save a woman’s life. It did not include provisions in cases of rape or incest.

Ryan Binkley

Ryan Binkley

Ryan Binkley, a pastor and entrepreneur from Texas, is anti-abortion.

It is unclear if Mr Binkley would support a federal abortion ban though one of the goals that he lists on his website is to “protect the unborn”.

He wrote: “My heart breaks for hundreds of thousands of unborn children who lost their lives to abortion last year.”

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