Real estate mogul Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with pro-life leaders on Tuesday, including Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis and Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins. Here are five things you need to know about his abortion positions.
1. In 1999, Trump described himself as "very pro-choice" and was in favor of partial-birth abortions.
When asked by then-host of NBC's Meet the Press Tim Russert if he would ban partial-birth abortions, Trump answered:
Well, look. I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it, I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I hear people debating the subject. But you still — I just believe in choice. And again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country, and I was raised in New York, grew up and worked and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion.
Russert pressed Trump, asking if he would ban partial-birth abortion at the time, and Trump said that he wouldn't, reiterating that he was "pro-choice in every respect, as far as it goes."
Less than a year later, Trump came out against partial-birth abortions in his book The America We Deserve, but still considered himself to be pro-choice.
2. Trump has said that his conversion to becoming pro-life is the result of a story he heard from a friend.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump relayed a story about his friend's wife's pregnancy.
"He didn’t really want the baby," Trump responded. "He was crying as he was telling me the story. He ends up having the baby and the baby is the apple of his eye. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. And you know here's a baby that wasn’t going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life."
Trump told the story a little differently in the August Republican debate, when he explained that the baby turned into a "total superstar." Trump was asked by a reporter if his view would have changed if the baby turned out to be a "total loser" instead.
"I’ve never thought of it," Trump said. "That’s an interesting question. I’ve never thought of it. Probably not, but I’ve never thought of it. I would say no, but in this case it was an easy one because he’s such an outstanding person."
That's not exactly a reassuring answer to those in the pro-life movement; as The Federalist's Cheryl Magness points out that it was only "the excellence of this child" that caused Trump's change of heart.
"Memo to Donald Trump: 'Pro-life' means to affirm the inherent value of life in all its forms, at all its stages," writes Magness. "This means that the Olympic athlete is no more deserving of life than the 80-year-old who can’t get out of bed, the paraplegic in a wheelchair, or the cancer victim in hospice care. It means that the wanted baby is no more deserving of being born than the unwanted baby. It means that the healthy child is no more entitled to a chance than the child with a congenital disease. And it means that the genius with a 140 IQ is no more valuable than the person with Down syndrome."
3. Trump, at one time, thought that the Constitution guarantees the right to privacy.
NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie asked Trump in 2011 if the Constitution guarantees a right to privacy.
"I guess there is, I guess there is," Trump responded. "And why, just out of curiosity, why do you ask that question?"
Guthrie pointed out that it's hard to justify being pro-life if you think that the right to privacy exists, which is what ultimately led the Supreme Court to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade.
"Look, I am pro-life," Trump blithely responded. "I've said it. I'm very strong there."
The problem is that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to privacy. As radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin explains, "The framers assumed no general right to privacy because, to state the obvious, criminal and evil acts can be committed in privacy. Criminal codes are full of such examples–from murder to incest to rape and other crimes."
The mythical right to privacy established by activist judges was what laid down the foundation for Roe v. Wade, meaning that Trump agreed with the legal underpinning of Roe v. Wade while at the same time claiming to be pro-life.
4. Trump has praised Planned Parenthood. Repeatedly.
For instance, this is what Trump said at the February 25 Republican date:
"As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I'm pro-life, I'm totally against abortion having to do with Planned Parenthood but millions and millions of women--cervical cancer, breast cancer--are helped by Planned Parenthood," Trump said. "So you can say whatever you want, but they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly."
"And I wouldn't fund it. I would defund it because of the abortion factor which they say is 3 percent -- I don't know what percentage it is, but I would defund it because I'm pro-life. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood."
And on March 1:
“Look, Planned Parenthood has done very good work for many, many — for millions of women,” Trump said in a news conference Tuesday night. “And I’ll say it, and I know a lot of the so-called conservatives, they say that’s really … cause I’m a conservative, but I’m a common-sense conservative.”
Trump said he would not fund Planned Parenthood “as long as you have the abortion going on,” but noted the “millions of people — and I’ve had thousands of letters from women — that have been helped.”
“And this wasn’t a set-up. This was women writing letters. But I’m going to be really good for women, I’m going to be good for women’s health issues, it’s very important to me. Very important to me,” he said.
Trump's constant praise of Planned Parenthood resulted in the organization's president, Cecile Richards, thanking Trump for his "kind words."
As The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis points out, the problem with Trump's argument is "that money is fungible."
"He apparently doesn’t realize that taxpayer subsidizing of Planned Parenthood’s legitimate activities would free up other money to be directed toward abortions," writes Lewis.
5. Trump completely botched the pro-life position in the primary.
On March 30 in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Trump said that "there has to be some form of punishment" for the woman, although he wasn't sure what exactly that punishment.
This has never been the standard pro-life position, as those in the movement have always advocated punishing the abortionist, not the woman.
After receiving outrage over his comments, Trump proceeded to change his position on it five times in a span of three days.