Pro-Life Activists Owe Trump a Debt of Gratitude

Recent weeks have been replete with betrayals in the Republican Party, from the shabby treatment of James O’Keefe and to Tucker Carlson’s abrupt dismissal from Fox News. The most insidious and shameful of betrayals, though, is the quasi-official pro-life movement choosing to work against the reelection of Donald Trump in 2024.

A prominent pro-life organization, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, is leading the charge against Trump. The group has the audacity to demonize his stance on abortion: that it is an issue that should be left to the states. SBA Pro-Life said Trump’s take is a “morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate.” Imagine having the nerve to call Trump a “self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate” after he was responsible for the dismantlement of Roe v. Wade, the most significant victory the movement could have imagined and the realization of their half-century-old objective.

SBA Pro-Life gave away its con when the group quickly shifted from criticizing Trump to praising former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, a neoconservative with dismal support even in her home state of South Carolina, for giving a speech filled with trivialities and platitudes at the group’s headquarters earlier last week.

“Haley’s commitment to acting on the American consensus against late-term abortion by protecting unborn children by at least 15 weeks when they can feel excruciating pain,” SBA Pro-Life said in response to Haley’s speech.

SBA Pro-Life was later reminded that Haley never actually outlined her commitment to banning abortion at 15 weeks while giving her canned speech, after which they noted that they were “assured she would set national consensus at 15 weeks.”

This continues the familiar pattern of pro-life groups serving as little more than a rubber stamp for whoever is the favored politician of Conservative Inc. and the money power running the show in the Republican establishment. National Right to Life has been particularly reprehensible in this regard, endorsing whoever is on the ballot as a Republican regardless of the specifics of their record. No Republican politician fears the pro-life lobby because there are never any consequences when they veer from their campaign rhetoric once elected.

The real reason that pro-life groups are rejecting or, at the very least, chilly toward Trump’s presidential ambitions is that his decisive action to undo Roe ended their gravy train. The pro-life groups had been dangling the carrot in front of Republican voters: “Get to the polls and vote Republican because it will mean we can repeal Roe,” and so forth. Like Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown at the last possible moment before he could kick, these promises were never meant to be fulfilled. Pro-life groups never changed their philosophy or their tactics despite failure after failure because they were always meant to lose. They existed to keep corralling Christian voters into voting for third-rate Republican politicians who accomplished nothing.

Enter Trump, a brash billionaire who was not steeped in pro-life ideology, but who vowed to live up to his mandate after Evangelicals, many of whom had serious reservations about his character and his ability to lead, got behind him in 2016. Trump delivered a victory that no other Republican president could accomplish. He did what none of his predecessors could do, not even the vaunted and idolized Ronald Reagan: he went three for three in nominating strong, conservative, rule-of-law justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. He fulfilled the promise of voting for the Republican Party to support judges, one of the popular canards used over the years to cajole angry conservatives into showing up to support Republicans who repeatedly stab them in the back.

With Roe overturned, the pro-life movement—particularly in deep red states that have not hesitated in approving severe abortion restrictions, including total bans—no longer serves a function. This means fewer easy paychecks for the lazy and opulent Republican operative class. It should come as no surprise that these professional pro-life activists are now turning on Trump and looking to soak up the NeverTrump dollar now that their grift has come to an end. They are as much part of the swamp as any other special interest looking to dupe their hapless constituency to serve their own political and economic ends.

Trump’s federalist position—the view that the states should be able to decide what their abortion laws should be—is the correct one; it even puts Democrats on the defensive. 

Pro-life abolitionism, while admirable and well-intentioned, allows Democrats to camouflage their radical embrace of child killing as moderate. They paint Republicans as anti-woman, repressive Christian zealots effectively in response. When Republicans put forward a federalist position or a stance carving out limited exemptions in line with what a substantial majority of the American people want, that is how the pro-life movement wins. Only sound political maneuvering can save children in the post-Roe environment, and Democrats have made gains across the country on the abortion issue because of poor Republican strategy.

Pro-life groups should be ashamed for misrepresenting President Trump’s record, which is a heroic one. Trump is the champion the pro-life movement needs–and he continues to blaze the trail for pro-life causes to make additional gains in the post-Roe era. He managed to pull off what Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush could not. 

Trump is the imperfect vessel sent to this country through divine providence to redeem our nation and renew the virtues that once made us great. Pro-life voters have had no more effective champion in defense of the unborn than the 45th president. 

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About Gavin Wax

Gavin Wax is the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club, Chairman of the New York Republican Liberty Caucus, an Ambassador for Turning Point USA, and an Associate Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images