Pro-life groups are pushing back against former President Donald Trump’s claim that the movement against abortion finds Florida’s new pro-life legislation “too harsh.”
“The pro-life movement demands a presidential candidate who will boldly advocate for the human rights of all people,” Noah Brandt, vice president of communications at Live Action, told The Daily Signal. “It is sad and disappointing to see a candidate attack the people of Florida for protecting pre-born Floridians with a detectable heartbeat.”
The former president discussed abortion during an interview with The Messenger, in which he repeatedly criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican, calling him “disloyal.” He also weighed in on Florida’s new heartbeat law, which prohibits doctors from “knowingly performing” an abortion on a baby whose age is determined to be more than six weeks. The law provides exceptions if the mother is a victim of rape, incest, or human trafficking.
“He has to do what he has to do,” Trump said of the law, according to The Messenger. “If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing. But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”
The publication reported that Trump was “more vague” on abortion in general, noting that the former president did not specify what kind of abortion restrictions he supported, nor would he say whether he agreed with Florida’s new pro-life law.
“Trump is embarrassing himself by abandoning pro-life voters and the children we are fighting for,” Live Action President Lila Rose tweeted Monday. “Florida and Gov DeSantis should be applauded for protecting life. If President Trump is done with fighting for life, pro-life voters should be done with him.”
Heartbeat laws, laws that protect a preborn child once their heartbeat can be detected are POPULAR. This poll in Florida, a swing state, shows 62% of Floridians support the heartbeat law, including 58% of women, 54% of Democrats, and 76% of Hispanics!https://t.co/PMpmP9Pw49 pic.twitter.com/mRAaemcRFR
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) May 15, 2023
The pro-life organizations Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the March for Life both defended Florida’s law on Monday, pointing to polling showing that Floridians support the legislation.
“Recent polling in Florida suggests that protections for the unborn after a heartbeat can be detected are popular (62%), and also compassionate,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini told The Daily Signal. “Florida’s passage of the Heartbeat Protection Act protects babies after their heartbeat is detectable and provides vital support to women and families in need facing unexpected pregnancies.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America similarly cited the Ragnar Research poll showing that 62% of likely Florida voters backed the heartbeat law, saying, “Florida’s Heartbeat Protection Act followed the science and the will of the people, and was an enormous victory in the battle for human rights.”
“The Act gives more moms who need financial and emotional support the help they need during pregnancy and after their child is born,” the pro-life group emphasized. “Tens of thousands of precious boys and girls will live and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, bless the lives of others, and enhance Florida’s communities.”
According to data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, 95% of the more than the 82,000 abortions in Florida last year were sought for “elective” or “social or economic” reasons, SBA Pro-Life America pointed out. “Florida will no longer account for 10% of abortions in the nation or be known as an abortion destination.”
Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, tweeted at Trump, “No, Mr. former President, many in the pro-life community do not believe saving babies is too harsh. Joining Ron DeSantis is Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in leading on life. The Iowa Caucus door just flung wide open.”
I agree with Bob here 100%. https://t.co/c9L2DxnDlB
— Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) May 15, 2023
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action, similarly decried Trump’s remarks.
“Saying that protecting a human being with the universal sign of life — a heartbeat — is not a priority is truly harsh,” she told The Daily Signal. “The Pro-Life Movement did not fight for the preborn and their mothers for 50 years to simply sign off on ‘a line in the sand’ of abortion policy that would allow more than 9 in 10 abortions.”
“We have stated and continue to be clear that demanding protection at conception for all members of our human race is the ideal and that at a minimum, children with heartbeats must be protected,” she added, noting that “SFLA polling indicates that such a limit — protecting people with the universal sign of life, a heartbeat — is well received.”
Neither Trump nor DeSantis immediately responded to requests for comment from The Daily Signal.
“Elective abortion is an act of intentional homicidal violence that ends the life of an innocent human being,” Brandt emphasized to The Daily Signal. “The Republican Party platform has even affirmed since 1984 that Congress pass ‘legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.’ Every American deserves equal protection and due process under the law, including preborn Americans.”
DeSantis’ office had praised the bill’s passage as a historic measure “to defend the dignity of human life and transform Florida into a pro-family state,” contrasting Florida’s new pro-life legislation with that of states like New York and California, which have “legalized infanticide up until birth.”
Last year, DeSantis also signed a 15-week abortion ban and legislation promoting fatherhood in the state through educational and mentorship programs, as well as one-on-one support. He also signed a bill expanding support for foster parents and children (SB 7034) and a bill combating maternal mortality rates (SB 2518).
Trump’s comments follow controversy over his midterm abortion analysis, which also generated concerns from pro-life groups. Earlier this year, Trump suggested that abortion tanked GOP performances in the midterms.
“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms,” Trump said in a Truth Social post in early January. “I was 233-20! It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters.”
“Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again,” added the former president, who has not responded to requests for comment.
His remarks prompted concerns that GOP leaders would avoid discussing abortion during subsequent elections. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America issued a statement at the time noting that “the approach to winning on abortion in federal races, proven for a decade is this: State clearly the ambitious consensus pro-life position and contrast that with the extreme view of Democrat opponents.”
“We look forward to hearing that position fully articulated by Mr. Trump and all presidential candidates,” the organization said, adding, “There was ALSO a profound midterm lesson for future federal candidates: those who adopted the Ostrich Strategy on abortion lose.”
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