In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court dropped its landmark abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade. Half a century later, the country still can’t stop arguing about what women are allowed to do with their bodies when they become pregnant. The issue can still attract or repel huge swaths of voters, so politicians must choose sides wisely. And there’s Donald Trump, who can’t seem to get his sh*t together on the issue, though it remains to be seen if that will hurt him or not at the polls this November (it obviously hasn’t so far). Those famous off-the-cuff mannerisms — which have won him many points with followers who find him refreshing — have met their match with abortion.
He’s a flip-flopper by nature, seemingly willing to say whatever he needs to say in the moment, but Trump’s inability to stick with an abortion stance has angered people more than his characterization of Mexicans as criminals and rapists and continued anti-Islamic rhetoric. Abortion should never be the butt of a joke, but the issue presents a comical blip for a teflon candidate and illustrates the awkwardness of his newfound Republican identity. Let’s run down this timeline, which shows staggering differences in Trump’s abortion stance over the years, months, and days.
October 24, 1999 – Pro-Choice
As Ivana Trump recently revealed, someone (Ronald Reagan, she said) put a bug into Trump’s ear about running for president in the late 1990s. Perhaps that explains why Trump visited Meet the Press and said this to Tim Russert: “I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. But … I just believe in choice.” He also insisted that he would not ban partial-birth abortion. Ted Cruz’s camp trucked out this interview (as proof that Trump’s “New York values” were not desirable) during the current presidential race.
December 1, 1999 – Still Pro-Choice, But Slightly Apathetic
Trump is quoted as telling reporters that abortion shouldn’t be up for public debate: “I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics. I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.” Sadly for the future Republican candidate, abortion and politics would continue to enjoy a combative marriage.
June 28, 2015 – Pro-Life, Possibly
Some folks theorize that people become more conservative with age, but anyone who noticed Trump’s liberal ways were surprised when he chose to run for president on the GOP side. Likewise, Trump himself seemed wobbly while speaking with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union:
TAPPER: I know you’re opposed to abortion.
TRUMP: Right. I’m pro-choice.
TAPPER: You’re pro-choice or pro-life?
TRUMP: I’m pro-life.
This interview is queued up to where Tapper jumps into social issues.
August 6, 2015 – Megyn Kelly Asks Trump To Get Real
During this first fiery confrontation between Trump and Kelly, she reminded him of his former approval of partial-birth abortions. She noted how he calls his opponents “clowns and puppets” and wanted to know, “When did you actually become a Republican?” Trump explained that he’s “evolved” just like Ronald Reagan on many issues. He said, “I am pro-life … I hate the concept of abortion.” Trump spoke of a friend’s child, who was “going to be aborted, and that child today is a total superstar.”
August 16, 2015 – Not Into Abortions For ‘A Cold’
During a Meet the Press interview, which was held on the candidate’s private jet, Chuck Todd asks about Trump’s twisty abortion stance and receives this answer:
“Look, Planned Parenthood has to stop with the abortions. Women’s health issues to me are very important. I cherish women. My mother was this incredible woman. I have great children. I have a great wife. I have such great respect for women. I understand the importance.”
Trump continued and said he would allow the procedure if “death” was involved, but not if a woman simply has “a cold” and wants an abortion.