Former President Donald Trump said Monday that abortion laws should be left to the states, many of which have enacted new restrictions since he appointed Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn federal protections for the procedure.

In a 4½-minute video released on his Truth Social media platform, Trump falsely claimed that “we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision. A majority of Americans have consistently said in polling that they favor the Roe vs. Wade protections that the court dismantled.

“My view is, now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land,” Trump said.

In doing so, he refused to take a position on the national ban that has been promoted by some of his staunchest allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former White House aide Kellyanne Conway. In the past, Trump had hinted that he might embrace a national ban, referring to a 15- or 16-week threshold as a consensus position.

Trump did not say what he would do if he won the presidency and Congress sent him a national ban.

Over the last quarter of a century and even since he became a candidate for office in 2015, Trump has been all over the map on how to handle the abortion issue. Since the 2024 campaign began, he’s offered few specifics about which policies he’d back in the post-Roe vs. Wade era should he win the White House.

Trump, a Florida resident, hasn’t said where he stands on that state’s new six-week ban. When he’s teased support for a nationwide ban, his words often appear to contradict formal statements put out by his campaign.

Trump has said he supports exceptions in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother, a position he reiterated in Monday’s video. But the president does not determine how states make their laws.

Trump has frequently gloated over being responsible for the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, which dismantled reproductive rights protections. But he also blamed GOP losses in 2022 on the issue and has said Republicans need to learn how to talk about abortion in a way that doesn’t turn off potential voters. 

Last year, after abortion protections were reversed, he made a vague overture in an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he would be a voice of consensus on abortion — but didn’t specify how.

“Let me just tell you what I’d do,” he said. “I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable.”

At the time, he said he wouldn’t sign a federal abortion ban at 15 weeks.

In recent months, however, Trump moved in the direction of a federal abortion ban even as some of his statements were at odds with his campaign. After reports surfaced that he told allies he was mulling a federal abortion ban at 16 weeks, his campaign dismissed it as “fake news.” Soon after, Graham told NBC News that “Trump is warming up to 16 weeks.” And then Trump himself in an interview suggested he’d support a 15-week ban

The prospect of the top of the GOP ticket backing a federal abortion ban at a time when Democrats are elevating the issue as a central point of attack could put swing-state Republicans in a trick box, after some have attempted to moderate their positions. Statements from Trump’s campaign, however, seem to be leaning toward states’ rights and not a federal ban.

“President Trump supports preserving life but has also made clear that he supports states’ rights because he supports the voters’ right to make decisions for themselves,” Brian Hughes, a Trump senior adviser, said in a statement. He added: “President Trump thinks voters should have the last word.”

After offering little clarity, last week at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump said his campaign would be “making a statement next week on abortion” after he was asked if he supported a six-week abortion ban that the Florida Supreme Court just upheld.

President Joe Biden’s campaign has seized on Trump’s varying remarks on abortion, particularly his past boasts of having a hand in overturning Roe v. Wade. 

“Donald Trump doesn’t trust women,” Biden says in a new ad. “I do.”

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