2024 Debate Looms: Abortion Front and Center in Biden-Trump Showdown

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Former President Trump and President Biden have scheduled their first 2024 debate for late June. As it coincides with the second anniversary of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, which returned the right to protect unborn children to the people and their elected representatives, abortion is poised to be a major election issue.

Biden and the Democrats are spending millions on attack ads centered around abortion. Vice President Harris, serving as Biden’s abortion czar, has been campaigning at abortion centers. They believe this issue is pivotal, even thinking it could help them flip Florida blue.

However, the Democrats have a significant vulnerability that plays right into Donald Trump’s hands.

Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. highlighted this weakness when he expressed support for “full-term” abortion in an interview. Faced with backlash from the Trump campaign and others, he retracted his statement, but not before Biden’s camp responded, “The president doesn’t support full-term abortions, as he’s made clear many times. He thinks Roe [v. Wade] got it right.”

The debate provides a prime opportunity to clarify for voters: Got what right?

Biden’s team knows that “full-term” abortion is unpopular. Three-quarters of voters would limit abortion to within 15 weeks of pregnancy, a point when babies can feel pain. Yet Biden won’t specify any limits he might support. He often avoids even saying the word “abortion.”

The media usually let this evasiveness slide, but Trump can expose Biden’s extremism and bring it to the forefront of public discourse.

Many Americans believed that Roe placed some limits on abortion without realizing it also included a broad health exception that encompassed “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.” This broad definition Roe permitted painful second- and third-trimester abortions for any reason. To this day, the United States is one of eight countries — alongside China and Vietnam — with no federal limits on abortion at any point during pregnancy.

Even the abortion industry acknowledges that most late-term abortions aren’t for medical reasons. A late-term abortionist with 50 years of experience admitted to performing more than one abortion just because someone wanted a boy instead of a girl. In his view, every pregnancy is a health risk justifying abortion, even as late as 22, 25, or 30 weeks.

Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood’s Missouri branch, testified to Congress in 2019 that her “practice includes [abortion] through the point of viability and … that could be at any point.” In suburbs like College Park, Maryland, and Beverly Hills, California, abortion businesses are still seeking to open “all-trimester” facilities post-Dobbs.

So what exactly does Biden think Roe “got right” — discriminatory sex-selection abortions? Partial-birth abortions (federally outlawed in 2003, yet ignored by some of his cabinet members)? Live dismemberment of babies old enough for life-saving surgery in the womb, who can receive anesthesia for pain? Biden never specifies. Neither does Harris, who repeatedly declined to state her limit when given several chances in a network interview.

If Biden were only aiming to resurrect Roe, that would be bad enough. But it’s worse. Biden supports the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act and urged Congress to “put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.” This bill would overturn common-sense protections for babies and women in every state and force all-trimester abortion on the entire nation.

Even fellow Democrat Joe Manchin criticized the act:

They’re trying to make people believe that this is the same thing as codifying Roe v. Wade. And I want you to know, it’s not. This is not the same. It expands abortion.

Moreover, Biden and other pro-abortion Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, have made clear that if they gain full control in Washington, they will abolish the Senate filibuster to push their agenda through. This move would eradicate a longstanding check and balance that gives the minority party a voice.

Kennedy may have reconsidered his stance on late-term abortions. His latest position endorses limits at viability, while his running mate prefers 15-18 weeks. However, he probably won’t qualify for the debate, leaving it to Trump and Biden.

One effective strategy for Trump is to press Biden on his specific limits on abortion and contrast this with his own support for a reasonable minimum standard with exceptions. Biden should be able to answer the question, “What are your exceptions?” — if indeed he has any.

Marjorie Dannenfelser
Marjorie Dannenfelser
Contributor. Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization dedicating to advancing leaders and pursuing policies to reduce and ultimately end abortion.

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