Trump’s Abortion-Pill Stance ‘2 Weeks Away,’ i.e., Never


Donald Trump has tried to minimize the backlash against his party’s efforts to ban abortion by refusing to state his own position. The primary Trump dodge involves claiming the Dobbs decision sends abortion “to the states,” therefore absolving him of the responsibility to take any position.

In addition to being factually inaccurate — Congress can still enact national laws on abortion — this does not cover all the bare skin in Trump’s position. Florida is holding a referendum on a six-week abortion ban. Time asked Trump how he, a Florida resident, plans to vote. Trump refused to say. “Well, it’ll give something else. I don’t tell you what I’m gonna vote for. I only tell you the state’s gonna make a determination.”

To reiterate, “the state” is making a determination through a vote in which Trump will participate, but he will not disclose his position.

The comedy of his evasion increases when Time asks about the abortion pill mifepristone. The pill is probably the most important tool women have to obtain access to abortion, given that it can be mailed and used at home.

Anti-abortion activists hope and expect Trump will use his regulatory powers to ban this pill. (Conservative-issue groups often let Republican candidates make unpopular promises in private, unlike progressive groups, which prefer forcing Democratic candidates to endorse unpopular stances in public.) Trump has avoided the question in public.

Time asked about his plans to ban mifepristone, to which he replied, “I will be making a statement on that over the next 14 days.”

For dedicated followers of the Trump show, “14 days” is a familiar trope. When Trump wants to avoid an issue, he always says his decision is two weeks away. During his administration, Trump announced that positions on issues including tax reform, infrastructure, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Davis-Bacon Act regulating wages on federally funded infrastructure projects, and other subjects were all two weeks away, without anything happening after two weeks, or usually ever.

Health care is Trump’s favorite two-week issue. Starting with his 2016 campaign, Trump promised a terrific health-care plan that would cover everybody with better insurance for less cost. He put off the unveiling of this magical solution for two weeks over and over and over.

You’d think he used the promise so many times it would have become a punch line. But no!

Time’s original interview took place April 12. On April 27 — one day after the big mifepristone-announcement deadline passed without any announcement — Time did a follow-up interview with Trump over the phone:

Time: Last time we spoke, you said you had an announcement coming over the next two weeks regarding your policy on the abortion pill mifepristone. You haven’t made an announcement yet. Would you like to do so now?

Trump: No, I haven’t. I’ll be doing it over the next week or two. But I don’t think it will be shocking, frankly. But I’ll be doing it over the next week or two. We’re for helping women, Eric. I am for helping women.

The optimistic interpretation of this comment is that the new deadline is closer than the old one. On April 12, the announcement was two weeks away, and then on April 27, it was one to two weeks away. Perhaps the deadlines are getting asymptotically closer together, rather than remaining perpetually two weeks in the future.

Or maybe, just maybe, Trump is not going to state his position until after the election.

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