WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump says he is less restrictive in his anti-abortion views than provisions in a string of pro-life laws being adopted by conservative state legislatures in recent days.
Trump, in late Saturday Twitter remarks, described himself as 'strongly pro-life,' but said abortions were acceptable to him in three instances, when a woman becomes pregnant by rape or incest and when the life of a mother is endangered.
His view is not as stringent as the provisions of laws being adopted in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, although he has no control over what state legislatures approve.
Alabama banned virtually all abortions, the strictest such law in the country, making an exception only for the health of the mother and for fetuses deemed to have 'fatal anomalies' that make them unlikely to survive outside the womb. Georgia's law bans abortions as soon as physicians can detect a heartbeat, while the Missouri legislation, likely to be signed by the state's governor, bans abortions after eight weeks.
Twenty years ago, long before he entered Republican Party politics and adopted its widely held anti-abortion views, Trump described himself as 'very pro-choice,' leaving the decision of whether to have have an abortion up to a woman.
Trump, in his tweets, said his position now is the same as that adopted in the 1980s by a revered conservative Republican president, Ronald Reagan, although Reagan actually only accepted abortions when an unborn child threatened the life of a mother.
Many of the anti-abortion state lawmakers voting for the new restrictions and the governors who have signed them into law say they expect legal challenges and that initially federal courts will declare them unconstitutional, in accordance with the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion rights across the U.S.
But anti-abortion activists are hoping that legal challenges of the state laws will reach the Supreme Court in the coming months and that the nine-member court's five-justice conservative bloc, including Trump-appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, will overturn the 46-year-old abortion rights ruling. Such a ruling could possibly leave it up to each of the 50 individual states to decide whether to allow the procedure, leaving it legal in some places and not in others.
Trump said his appointment of 'two great new Supreme Court Justices' and 105 'wonderful new Federal Judges (many more to come)' supports his 'Right to Life' stance.
He claimed that 'The Radical Left, with late term abortion (and worse), is imploding on this issue. We must stick together and Win for Life in 2020. If we are foolish and do not stay UNITED as one, all of our hard fought gains for Life can, and will, rapidly disappear!'
Many of the nearly two dozen Democratic presidential contenders seeking their party's nomination to run against Trump in the November 2020 election have assailed the states adopting the anti-abortion laws, affirming their support for the Roe decision.
More than 50 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. since 1973, according to government statistics, with the biggest number in 1990, more than 1.4 million, a figure that has generally declined since then to less than a million annually.