Stunned pro-life advocates pushed back after Donald Trump, one of their greatest allies during his presidency, blamed the abortion issue for hobbling the Republican Party in the November election.
“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms,” the former president said in a Sunday statement on Truth Social. “I was 233-20! It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters.”
He added that “the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again. Plus, Mitch stupid $’s!”
A slew of conservatives and pro-life activists rejected his analysis, noting that the Republican Party supports an exception to save the life of the mother, as does the pro-life movement.
“First, not a single candidate Trump endorsed who lost backed his fictional ‘no exceptions even in the case of rape incest or life of the mother,’” tweeted conservative commentator Ben Domenech. “Literally zero Republican candidates think abortion should be banned when a mother’s life is at risk.”
He predicted the ex-president’s blast would come back to haunt him in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
“Trump betraying the pro-life cause on Dobbs has been telegraphed for a long time and is a huge opening to bash him in the 2024 stakes which I expect several candidates to seize,” Mr. Domenech said. “Finally, think how stupid it is for Trump to run left on the pro-life issue. This is the biggest win of his presidency. Huge vested goodwill from pro-lifers. And what does he do? Call them quislings and say they’re too radical! Very dumb.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which spent a record $78 million during the 2022 campaign with the Women Speak Out PAC, reiterated its position that Republicans should have done more to contrast their abortion stances with those of Democrats, instead of ignoring the issue.
“The approach to winning on abortion in federal races, proven for a decade is this: state clearly the ambitious consensus pro-life position and contrast that with the extreme view of Democrat opponents,” the group said in a Monday statement. “We look forward to hearing that position fully articulated by Mr. Trump and all presidential candidates.”
The organization was one of several leading pro-life groups that supported a bill introduced in September by Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, to limit most abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, with exceptions for rape, incest, and risks to the life and health of the mother.
Mr. Graham was hotly criticized for bringing the bill by other Republicans who argued that the issue should be left to the states and that the party’s midterm focus should be on the economy, not abortion.
Said SBA Pro-Life America: “There was ALSO a profound midterm lesson for future federal candidates: those who adopted the Ostrich Strategy on abortion lose.”
— Matthew 16:18 (@Matthew1618EENS) January 2, 2023
Conservatives pointed out that Mr. Trump endorsed a slew of GOP candidates who took a hard line on abortion and lost, including Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, Wisconsin gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels, and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.
Republican governors who signed bills limiting abortion access and cruised to victory in November include Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Ohio’s Mike DeWine, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, and Greg Abbott of Texas.
“Don’t ever apologize for prioritizing the abortion issue,” tweeted Kimberly Ross, a 2023 fellow with the conservative Independent Women’s Forum. “As usual, Donald Trump is most concerned about himself and his ego. Always has been. He is quite literally a loser (electoral and otherwise) and needs to go away.”
Meanwhile, Democrats seized on the split to blast Mr. Trump, who has been accused of hurting the GOP by boosting weak primary candidates who wound up losing in the general election, turning the anticipated red wave into more of a dribble.
“Dear anti-abortion voters: Trump never believed life began at conception. He was using the abortion issue only to gain power,” tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat. “Now that you’re no longer useful to him, Trump blames you for losing and wants you to shut up. If you still support him, you are disrespecting yourself.”
Rep. Ritchie Torres, New York Democrat, said Mr. Trump had only himself to blame for choosing conservative Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson.
“WOW: Trump faults the anti-abortion fanaticism of the far right for costing Republicans in the midterms, showing that a broken clock is right twice a day,” Mr. Torres tweeted. “Trump cannot come to grips with his own role in reversing Roe vs Wade and reducing the so-called ‘red wave’ to a trickle.”
Conservative commentator Pedro Gonzalez noted that Mr. Trump took credit for the fall of Roe v. Wade after the court’s June 24 opinion.
“It’s not the debate over abortion itself that’s going to upset people about Trump’s statement at this point, but rather it’s that he previously explicitly took credit for [the] end of Roe v. Wade—he called it ‘the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation,’” Mr. Gonzalez tweeted.