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But all things considered, Trump’s stance is not nearly as extreme as what we’ve seen from many others in his party. So I asked Post Opinions columnists Megan McArdle and Ruth Marcus: Is Trump softening on abortion?

💬 💬 💬

Alexi McCammond: Hello there! Thank you both for doing this on a holiday. I feel like Trump has been pretty smart about abortion politics so far. Is his position on this issue kinda … reasonable?

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Ruth Marcus: No. No. No. It sounds reasonable, but don’t be bamboozled by it. Here’s why: First, a 16-week national ban does not, as I understand it from the Times’ reporting, prevent states from having more draconian restrictions. It would only prevent liberal states that want to be more protective of abortion rights, and that’s about 30 states at the moment, from doing so. So the notion that this decision should be left to the states — which Trump once endorsed — would be overtaken by the rule that states get to be as restrictive as they want but not as permissive as they want.

Alexi: So that means under a President Trump there’d be no future for these abortion ballot initiatives we’ve seen across the country that have enshrined reproductive rights in those states’ constitutions.

Ruth: Second, even if this were not the case, 16 weeks sounds more reasonable than it is in reality. There would be no exceptions except for rape, incest and the life of the mother. We have seen with terrible, tragic cases in Texas and elsewhere what happens to women in dire but perhaps not imminently life-threatening situations, how illusory these supposed “exceptions” are. In addition, there would be no allowance made for the similarly terrible situations in which the fetus is discovered to have a life-threatening or drastically life-limiting condition. These tend to be diagnosed after 16 weeks, and a majority of women terminate pregnancies in such situations. They would no longer be permitted to make that choice. Bottom line: This is a ruse. Don’t fall for it.

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Alexi: Megan, what do you think?

Megan McArdle: I think there are a lot of definitions of “reasonable.” On principle, and as a matter of practicality, I think the issue should be left to the states, but I don’t think it’s “unreasonable” to disagree.

In terms of the substance, I think 16 weeks is a reasonable compromise between the extremism of the activists who drive both party platforms. It’s broadly in line with how Western Europe handles the issue. It’s also broadly in line with how the American public polls on this: Americans support relatively unfettered access in the first trimester but are quite uncomfortable with allowing women to decide to abort a viable pregnancy in the second and third trimester.

Ruth: Megan, hiya, hope you’re well. With all due respect, I believe you’re wrong about Europe, for multiple reasons. In Europe, there is far easier access to birth control and abortion, with health-care coverage, early in pregnancy. In addition, in the European countries, there are significant exceptions for maternal and fetal health, exceptions that Trump is not including. So — and I wrote about this some time ago when Sen. Lindsey Graham came out with his equally bogus 15-week proposal — the European comparison is not apt.

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Alexi: I mean, honestly, even thinking about Trump having any say over women’s reproductive rights makes me feel bad. And that’s a sign that this will only help Biden and Democrats amplify the issue of abortion and protecting reproductive rights even more (though Trump himself hasn’t said this publicly yet).

Megan: I would hesitate to call the evolving Democratic position that a fetus exists in a kind of Schrödinger’s superposition, becoming a person only as the mother wills it, more reasonable than a 16-week ban. Nor, of course, do I think the Republican laws that are making it hard for doctors to treat women with miscarriages can be called “reasonable” in any sense of the word.

Ruth: Megan, I do not agree that is the evolving Democratic position. But we are discussing whether the Trump proposal, to the extent we understand it, is reasonable.

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I do agree with Megan that 16 weeks is in line with how the American public polls. If there were a real 16-week limit — that is, if you could access birth control and abortion before that; if there were real, enforceable exceptions including for maternal and fetal health; if states would not be free to impose more draconian limits — I would seriously consider that. But that is not what is being proposed, and so what Megan calls reasonable is not in fact reasonable at all when you look at the details.

Alexi: Okay so I’d like to officially retract associating Trump with anything reasonable at all in this conversation. Kinda to Megan’s point earlier, I was surprised his stance wasn’t as extreme as the most extreme in his party, especially since the reporting was about what he supported in private. I do think he has been smart about handling the abortion politics relative to his GOP colleagues.

Megan: If elective abortion after 16 weeks is bad — and I’m afraid I think it is — then I don’t think a national ban is unreasonable, even if Democrats can’t use it as a negotiating chip to get rid of tighter restrictions.

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Ruth: What makes it reasonable? What about maternal health? What about fetal anomalies?

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Megan: Obviously the devil is in the details, but those aren’t fleshed out yet. Democrats are eager to codify a 24-week national rule that would also supersede the states. Given where the public is — and also that 24 weeks is really quite a large, well-developed fetus — that strikes me as more unreasonable than a 16-week national ban.

That said, I don’t think this issue should be handled at the national level. It has already poisoned our politics for far too long.

Alexi: Leaving it to the states is fine in theory until you get these extreme MAGA candidates running for governor and vowing to ban abortion with zero exceptions whatsoever.

Ruth: We have 20 or so states that would continue to be free to ban abortion entirely. If you are simultaneously imposing a 16-week ban on other states, what is reasonable about that?

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🙅🏽‍♀️ 🙅🏽‍♀️ 🙅🏽‍♀️

The next word

Let’s set aside what Trump would do legislatively if elected president (because assuming he doesn’t win a supermajority in the Senate, that’s probably impossible anyway).

Instead, consider what he might do through executive power. If elected again in 2024, there’s no question that he would test the powers of the presidency in irreparable ways. And should he decide that his goal is to impose a national abortion ban, he could do quite a lot. As Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California at Davis, wrote for the New York Times: “What is plausible is that, returned to the White House, Donald Trump would seek to use his executive power — power that his allies are aiming to increase on his behalf — to further curtail abortion access.”

If that seems to clash with Trump’s attempt to moderate his stance on abortion, don’t forget that Trump once promised “punishment” for women who received abortion care. And women have are already living in a more dangerous America with fewer constitutional rights thanks to the Supreme Court justices he appointed during his tenure.

Advertisement

Now, antiabortion activists and GOP groups preparing for a possible Trump presidency are going even further by trying to ban access to mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortions, The Post’s Editorial Board explained.

Meanwhile, some Republicans, emboldened by the MAGA era, have made clear that they’d prefer a world in which a 10-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated has no choice but to give birth. This is the world Trump created.

🖥️ 🖥️ 🖥️

r/Politics

A self-described “center-left liberal” who supports Biden (but backed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 primaries) posited in the subreddit r/AskALiberal that maybe Nikki Haley wouldn’t be a terrible president. “Am I missing something?” they wrote. “Why should I dislike her or be afraid of her politically?”

This user, PepinoPicante, summed it up pretty well: “The two positives of Haley are: She doesn’t seem ideologically interested in authoritarianism. She seems interested in working with what she’s got, rather than obstructing and destroying things.”

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New reporting from the New York Times suggests Donald Trump is privately supporting a federal 16-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. Apparently, the former president arrived at this position in part because 16 is a round number. (I wish I could make that up!)

But all things considered, Trump’s stance is not nearly as extreme as what we’ve seen from many others in his party. So I asked Post Opinions columnists Megan McArdle and Ruth Marcus: Is Trump softening on abortion?

Alexi McCammond: Hello there! Thank you both for doing this on a holiday. I feel like Trump has been pretty smart about abortion politics so far. Is his position on this issue kinda … reasonable?

Ruth Marcus: No. No. No. It sounds reasonable, but don’t be bamboozled by it. Here’s why: First, a 16-week national ban does not, as I understand it from the Times’ reporting, prevent states from having more draconian restrictions. It would only prevent liberal states that want to be more protective of abortion rights, and that’s about 30 states at the moment, from doing so. So the notion that this decision should be left to the states — which Trump once endorsed — would be overtaken by the rule that states get to be as restrictive as they want but not as permissive as they want.

Alexi: So that means under a President Trump there’d be no future for these abortion ballot initiatives we’ve seen across the country that have enshrined reproductive rights in those states’ constitutions.

Ruth: Second, even if this were not the case, 16 weeks sounds more reasonable than it is in reality. There would be no exceptions except for rape, incest and the life of the mother. We have seen with terrible, tragic cases in Texas and elsewhere what happens to women in dire but perhaps not imminently life-threatening situations, how illusory these supposed “exceptions” are. In addition, there would be no allowance made for the similarly terrible situations in which the fetus is discovered to have a life-threatening or drastically life-limiting condition. These tend to be diagnosed after 16 weeks, and a majority of women terminate pregnancies in such situations. They would no longer be permitted to make that choice. Bottom line: This is a ruse. Don’t fall for it.

Alexi: Megan, what do you think?

Megan McArdle: I think there are a lot of definitions of “reasonable.” On principle, and as a matter of practicality, I think the issue should be left to the states, but I don’t think it’s “unreasonable” to disagree.

In terms of the substance, I think 16 weeks is a reasonable compromise between the extremism of the activists who drive both party platforms. It’s broadly in line with how Western Europe handles the issue. It’s also broadly in line with how the American public polls on this: Americans support relatively unfettered access in the first trimester but are quite uncomfortable with allowing women to decide to abort a viable pregnancy in the second and third trimester.

Ruth: Megan, hiya, hope you’re well. With all due respect, I believe you’re wrong about Europe, for multiple reasons. In Europe, there is far easier access to birth control and abortion, with health-care coverage, early in pregnancy. In addition, in the European countries, there are significant exceptions for maternal and fetal health, exceptions that Trump is not including. So — and I wrote about this some time ago when Sen. Lindsey Graham came out with his equally bogus 15-week proposal — the European comparison is not apt.

Alexi: I mean, honestly, even thinking about Trump having any say over women’s reproductive rights makes me feel bad. And that’s a sign that this will only help Biden and Democrats amplify the issue of abortion and protecting reproductive rights even more (though Trump himself hasn’t said this publicly yet).

Megan: I would hesitate to call the evolving Democratic position that a fetus exists in a kind of Schrödinger’s superposition, becoming a person only as the mother wills it, more reasonable than a 16-week ban. Nor, of course, do I think the Republican laws that are making it hard for doctors to treat women with miscarriages can be called “reasonable” in any sense of the word.

Ruth: Megan, I do not agree that is the evolving Democratic position. But we are discussing whether the Trump proposal, to the extent we understand it, is reasonable.

I do agree with Megan that 16 weeks is in line with how the American public polls. If there were a real 16-week limit — that is, if you could access birth control and abortion before that; if there were real, enforceable exceptions including for maternal and fetal health; if states would not be free to impose more draconian limits — I would seriously consider that. But that is not what is being proposed, and so what Megan calls reasonable is not in fact reasonable at all when you look at the details.

Alexi: Okay so I’d like to officially retract associating Trump with anything reasonable at all in this conversation. Kinda to Megan’s point earlier, I was surprised his stance wasn’t as extreme as the most extreme in his party, especially since the reporting was about what he supported in private. I do think he has been smart about handling the abortion politics relative to his GOP colleagues.

Megan: If elective abortion after 16 weeks is bad — and I’m afraid I think it is — then I don’t think a national ban is unreasonable, even if Democrats can’t use it as a negotiating chip to get rid of tighter restrictions.

Ruth: What makes it reasonable? What about maternal health? What about fetal anomalies?

Megan: Obviously the devil is in the details, but those aren’t fleshed out yet. Democrats are eager to codify a 24-week national rule that would also supersede the states. Given where the public is — and also that 24 weeks is really quite a large, well-developed fetus — that strikes me as more unreasonable than a 16-week national ban.

That said, I don’t think this issue should be handled at the national level. It has already poisoned our politics for far too long.

Alexi: Leaving it to the states is fine in theory until you get these extreme MAGA candidates running for governor and vowing to ban abortion with zero exceptions whatsoever.

Ruth: We have 20 or so states that would continue to be free to ban abortion entirely. If you are simultaneously imposing a 16-week ban on other states, what is reasonable about that?

Let’s set aside what Trump would do legislatively if elected president (because assuming he doesn’t win a supermajority in the Senate, that’s probably impossible anyway).

Instead, consider what he might do through executive power. If elected again in 2024, there’s no question that he would test the powers of the presidency in irreparable ways. And should he decide that his goal is to impose a national abortion ban, he could do quite a lot. As Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California at Davis, wrote for the New York Times: “What is plausible is that, returned to the White House, Donald Trump would seek to use his executive power — power that his allies are aiming to increase on his behalf — to further curtail abortion access.”

If that seems to clash with Trump’s attempt to moderate his stance on abortion, don’t forget that Trump once promised “punishment” for women who received abortion care. And women have are already living in a more dangerous America with fewer constitutional rights thanks to the Supreme Court justices he appointed during his tenure.

Now, antiabortion activists and GOP groups preparing for a possible Trump presidency are going even further by trying to ban access to mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortions, The Post’s Editorial Board explained.

Meanwhile, some Republicans, emboldened by the MAGA era, have made clear that they’d prefer a world in which a 10-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated has no choice but to give birth. This is the world Trump created.

A self-described “center-left liberal” who supports Biden (but backed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 primaries) posited in the subreddit r/AskALiberal that maybe Nikki Haley wouldn’t be a terrible president. “Am I missing something?” they wrote. “Why should I dislike her or be afraid of her politically?”

This user, PepinoPicante, summed it up pretty well: “The two positives of Haley are: She doesn’t seem ideologically interested in authoritarianism. She seems interested in working with what she’s got, rather than obstructing and destroying things.”

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Is Trump’s 16-week abortion ban reasonable?

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20.02.2024

Sign up for the Prompt 2024 newsletter for opinions on the biggest questions in politicsArrowRight

But all things considered, Trump’s stance is not nearly as extreme as what we’ve seen from many others in his party. So I asked Post Opinions columnists Megan McArdle and Ruth Marcus: Is Trump softening on abortion?

💬 💬 💬

Alexi McCammond: Hello there! Thank you both for doing this on a holiday. I feel like Trump has been pretty smart about abortion politics so far. Is his position on this issue kinda … reasonable?

Advertisement

Ruth Marcus: No. No. No. It sounds reasonable, but don’t be bamboozled by it. Here’s why: First, a 16-week national ban does not, as I understand it from the Times’ reporting, prevent states from having more draconian restrictions. It would only prevent liberal states that want to be more protective of abortion rights, and that’s about 30 states at the moment, from doing so. So the notion that this decision should be left to the states — which Trump once endorsed — would be overtaken by the rule that states get to be as restrictive as they want but not as permissive as they want.

Alexi: So that means under a President Trump there’d be no future for these abortion ballot initiatives we’ve seen across the country that have enshrined reproductive rights in those states’ constitutions.

Ruth: Second, even if this were not the case, 16 weeks sounds more reasonable than it is in reality. There would be no exceptions except for rape, incest and the life of the mother. We have seen with terrible, tragic cases in Texas and elsewhere what happens to women in dire but perhaps not imminently life-threatening situations, how illusory these supposed “exceptions” are. In addition, there would be no allowance made for the similarly terrible situations in which the fetus is discovered to have a life-threatening or drastically life-limiting condition. These tend to be diagnosed after 16 weeks, and a majority of women terminate pregnancies in such situations. They would no longer be permitted to make that choice. Bottom line: This is a ruse. Don’t fall for it.

Advertisement

Alexi: Megan, what do you think?

Megan McArdle: I think there are a lot of definitions of “reasonable.” On principle, and as a matter of practicality, I think the issue should be left to the states, but I don’t think it’s “unreasonable” to disagree.

In terms of the substance, I think 16 weeks is a reasonable compromise between the extremism of the activists who drive both party platforms. It’s broadly in line with how Western Europe handles the issue. It’s also broadly in line with how the American public polls on this: Americans support relatively unfettered access in the first trimester but are quite uncomfortable with allowing women to decide to abort a viable pregnancy in the second and third trimester.

Ruth: Megan, hiya, hope you’re well. With all due respect, I believe you’re wrong about Europe, for multiple reasons. In Europe, there is far easier access to birth control and abortion, with health-care coverage, early in pregnancy. In addition, in the European countries, there are significant exceptions for maternal and fetal health, exceptions that Trump is not including. So — and I wrote about this some time ago when Sen. Lindsey Graham came out with his equally bogus 15-week proposal — the European comparison is not apt.

Advertisement

Alexi: I mean, honestly, even thinking about Trump having any say over women’s reproductive rights makes me feel bad. And that’s a sign that this will only help Biden and Democrats amplify the issue of abortion and protecting reproductive rights even more (though Trump himself hasn’t said this publicly yet).

Megan: I would hesitate to call the evolving Democratic position that a fetus exists in a kind of Schrödinger’s superposition, becoming a person only as the mother wills it, more reasonable than a 16-week ban. Nor, of course, do I think the Republican laws that are making it hard for doctors to treat women with miscarriages can be called “reasonable” in any sense of the word.

Ruth: Megan, I do not agree that is the evolving Democratic position. But we are discussing whether the Trump proposal, to the extent we understand it, is reasonable.

Advertisement

I do agree with Megan that 16 weeks is in line with how the American public polls. If there were a real........

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