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Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Donald Trump is planning to release more details in the weeks ahead about how his administration would regulate access to medication abortion, according to comments he made during a lengthy interview with Time magazine published Tuesday.

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
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This booking photo provided by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office shows former President Donald Trump on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, after he surrendered and was booked at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Trump is accused by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of attempting to subvert the will of Georgia voters in a bid to keep Joe Biden out of the White House. (Fulton County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

WASHINGTON —

Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president, said that he has “strong views” about access to mifepristone, though he declined to say exactly what those are. He did not rule out a nationwide ban, or imposing new restrictions.

“Well, I have an opinion on that, but I’m not going to explain,” Trump said, according to the transcript of the interview. “I’m not gonna say it yet. But I have pretty strong views on that. And I’ll be releasing it probably over the next week.”

Mifepristone is one of two pharmaceuticals used in medication abortions, which make up more than 63% of abortions nationwide, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration originally approved mifepristone in 2000 before updating prescribing guidelines in 2016 and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes to when and how mifepristone can be prescribed are at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case brought by anti-abortion medical organizations and doctors. A ruling is expected this summer on whether access to mifepristone will stay as it is now or go back to what was in place before 2016.

Reverting prescribing would mean that mifepristone would be approved up to seven weeks gestation, not the current 10-week ceiling; it could no longer be prescribed via telehealth and shipped to patients; patients would need to attend three in-person doctors’ office appointments; and only doctors would be able to prescribe it, not qualified health care providers with the authority to prescribe pharmaceuticals.

‘Big statement’ coming on Comstock Act

Trump was also asked about the Comstock Act, an 1873 anti-obscenity law that conservative organizations and anti-abortion groups believe a Republican attorney general could use to ban shipping of mifepristone nationwide.

Trump said, “I will be making a statement on that over the next 14 days,” when asked if his Department of Justice would try to enforce the Comstock Act to ban mailing of abortion pharmaceuticals.

The interview was on April 12, more than 14 days ago.

“I have a big statement on that,” Trump said. “I feel very strongly about it. I actually think it’s a very important issue.”

Trump said in a video released in early April that he believed regulating abortion access should be left up to state lawmakers, infuriating anti-abortion organizations and some members of his own party who believe there should be a nationwide law setting restrictions on access.

Trump said during the interview with Time that he didn’t have a strong viewpoint on states punishing women who seek abortion. Anti-abortion organizations generally have opposed penalties for women, though Trump has mentioned it in the past.

“I don’t have to be comfortable or uncomfortable,” Trump said of states punishing women who seek abortions. “The states are going to make that decision. The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me.”

Trump said he thinks that some states might monitor women’s pregnancies, when asked about the issue.

Trump, who is registered to vote in Florida, repeatedly declined to say how he would vote on a ballot question this November that would add protections for abortion rights to the state’s constitution.

“I don’t tell you what I’m gonna vote for,” Trump said. “I only tell you the state’s gonna make a determination.”

Biden campaign reacts

Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a written statement that a Trump reelection would be a threat to reproductive rights.

“Simply put: November’s election will determine whether women in the United States have reproductive freedom, or whether Trump’s new government will continue its assault to control women’s health care decisions,” Rodriguez wrote.

“With the voters on their side this November, President Biden and Vice President Harris will put an end to this chaos and ensure Americans’ fundamental freedoms are protected.”

Reproductive Freedom for All President and CEO Mini Timmaraju said in a written statement about Trump’s latest comments on abortion access that she has “zero doubt in my mind that Trump will choose anti-abortion extremists and their horrifying agenda over American families every single chance he gets, and this new interview proves that he will ban abortion in all 50 states.”

“It’s imperative that we double down on our mission to reelect the Biden-Harris ticket and deliver Congressional majorities to lock our right to abortion care into federal law.”

This story was originally published in the North Dakota Monitor.


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