Donald Trump has repeatedly taken credit for the US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to revoke a constitutional right to abortion care, a landmark ruling that has upended abortion access for millions of Americans in the months that followed.
Within his one four-year term, the former president appointed three conservative justices to the nine-member panel, tilting the court’s ideological balance in a promised effort to achieve a long-held Republican goal of overturning the 1973 decision in Roe v Wade.
The conservative majority’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization has proved unpopular with most Americans and has fuelled victories in several Democratic campaigns and ballot measures to protect abortion rights.
In remarks to a crowd of supporters at a South Dakota rally on 8 September, the former president – who once said “I’m the one that got rid of Roe v Wade” – admitted that the Supreme Court decision has “probably cost” the GOP politically.
“Last year, those justices bravely and incredibly ruled on something that everybody has wanted for decades,” Mr Trump said. “They ruled to end Roe v Wade. That was a big thing. And it’s probably cost us politically, because the other side got energised.”
Mr Trump, who has touted himself as the “most pro-life president in American history” while promising capital punishment against drug offenders and human traffickers, is among Republican candidates jockeying for the GOP’s 2024 nomination while navigating the post-Roe landscape of anti-abortion activism – and proposals for a national ban – against widespread opposition to anti-abortion laws.
He has previously called Ron DeSantis’s Florida ban on abortion access at six weeks of pregnancy “too harsh,” drawing a rare rebuke from an influential anti-abortion group. Mr Trump has avoided saying directly whether he would sign legislation to ban abortion nationally.
“But like Ronald Reagan before me, I support the three exceptions – for rape, incest, and life of the mother,” he said in South Dakota. “Not everybody does. I think a large portion do. … I think you should, but again, that’s your own, that’s your own feeling.”