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Conservative Christians praise Trump’s anti-abortion record but say he’s stopped short of the goal

For conservative, anti-abortion Christians, former President Donald Trump delivered in four years what no other Republican before him had been able to do: A conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court that would go on to overturn Roe v. Wade, a Holy Grail of the movement.

With abortion rights now controlled by each state, rather than legalized nationwide by the 1973 court ruling, Trump made clear Monday that he would not be leading the push for a federal abortion ban as he vies for his second term in the Oval Office. Some anti-abortion religious leaders criticized his approach, while others gave thanks for Trump’s past anti-abortion wins and vowed to keep pressing for federal restrictions.

“Roe is done. The opportunity to protect life is at hand,” Brent Leatherwood, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, said in a statement.

Candidates who profess the anti-abortion views of the voters they’re wooing “should be articulating a robust vision for establishing a true culture of life where babies are saved, mothers are served, and families are supported,” he said. “Anything short of that is not a serious attempt to court pro-life voters.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment. But in the video posted Monday on his Truth Social site, Trump backed the patchwork of state abortion laws that followed the 2022 Supreme Court decision upending federal abortion protections. Trump took credit for the outcome, a historic ruling celebrated by his evangelical base.

“Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks or some will have more conservative than others and that’s what they will be,” Trump said. “At the end of the day it’s all about will of the people.”

Ed Stetzer, dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, categorized Trump’s approach as functionally a pro-states’ rights, pro-abortion access position, and fellow anti-abortion Christians should recognize it for the political move that it is.

“Convictions about life are better than following the political winds, and it appears that President Trump’s convictions have given way to the political winds,” said Stetzer, who thinks it is too early to tell if this would cause some conservative Christians not to vote for him.

As Republican-led states have outlawed or further restricted abortion, Democrats believe the fight over abortion rights helps them at the polls. The issue will be on some state ballots again this year.

For many anti-abortion advocates, voting for President Joe Biden, who is vowing to restore Roe v. Wade’s protections if re-elected, is not an option. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, one of the nation’s biggest abortion advocacy groups, rebuked Trump’s position, but remains committed to defeating Biden and congressional Democrats.

“We are deeply disappointed in President Trump’s position. Unborn children and their mothers deserve national protections and national advocacy from the brutality of the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, a Catholic and president of the organization, in a statement.

“Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats,” she said.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition, an evangelical advocacy group founded by conservative activist Ralph Reed, said in a statement that it still plans to contact millions of voters of faith between now and the election to make sure they know where the current president stands on abortion: “Biden and the far Left are the real extremists, and their radical position on abortion is not only morally repugnant but is way outside mainstream.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement that he is pushing for federal restrictions on abortion and for former President Trump, if reelected, to reverse Biden administration policies that expand abortion access.

“I applaud President Trump for the work he has done, but that work is not over,” he said.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Holly Meyer And Tiffany Stanley, The Associated Press


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