Only a few Republican presidential candidates have committed to 15-week abortion ban

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After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, states regained the power to regulate or even ban abortion.

The politics of abortion, however, was not to remain relegated to the states for long, with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina’s introduction of a bill that would create a federal abortion ban at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In the 13 months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, most Republican states approved stricter rules on abortion, ranging from bans from the moment of conception, fetal heartbeat bills, or the 18-week threshold in Utah. Yet, most Republican candidates seeking to challenge President Joe Biden in 2024 have shied away from backing similar policies at the federal level.

Here’s a look at where the major presidential candidates stand on a 15-week federal abortion ban:

Donald Trump: has not committed to 15-week ban

The former president and frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, Donald Trump, has so far refused to commit to supporting a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy at the federal level. 

“We’re going to look at it,” Trump told WMUR in late April when asked whether he would sign Graham’s legislation that would prohibit abortions after the 15-week mark if he were president.

Despite his reluctance to openly support a federal ban, the former president took credit for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which allowed states to set their own abortion laws.

“We’re looking at a lot of different options,” Trump continued. “We got it back to the states. We did the Roe v. Wade thing, which they’ve been trying to get it done for 50 years. I got it done. I appointed incredible justices.”

In late June, Trump said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition annual conference that he believes the federal government must play a “vital role” in protecting unborn life but did not say whether that would include a federal ban on abortion at a certain point in pregnancy.

CNA reached out to the Trump campaign to ask whether he would support a 15-week abortion ban if elected president but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Ron DeSantis: has not committed to 15-week ban

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has consistently polled a distant second behind Trump for the Republican nomination, has also shied away from endorsing a national 15-week ban, even though he signed legislation in Florida to prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. 

“I really believe right now in our society, it’s really a bottom-up movement and that’s where we’ve had most success — Iowa, South Carolina, Florida — and I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of good battles there,” DeSantis said in an interview with Megyn Kelly in late July when asked about federal abortion policy.

When asked whether he would support a federal ban, the governor said he will “always come down on the side of life” and will be “a pro-life president” but did not endorse any specific ban. 

“I think there is a federal interest, but I think the reality is that the country’s divided on it,” DeSantis added. 

The governor said he is running on abortion-related issues he could accomplish, such as denying funding for abortion and maintaining a pro-life Supreme Court.

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CNA reached out to the DeSantis campaign to ask whether he would support a 15-week abortion ban if elected president but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Nikki Haley: supports 15-week ban

Former governor of South Carolina and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has consistently polled below 5%, said during an early July interview on Fox News Sunday that she would “absolutely” sign a 15-week abortion ban into law if the bill got to her desk. 

However, Haley also noted during the interview that “we might have 45 pro-life senators, so we’ve got a long way to go,” based on the need to reach 60 votes to get past the Senate filibuster. She said she would work to “save as many babies as we can and support as many moms as we can” by finding consensus on certain policies rather than pushing for legislation that is not likely to pass. 

A spokesperson for Haley’s campaign told CNA the candidate “believes there is a federal role to play” in abortion but that she is focused on “making progress in areas where there is some national consensus” in relation to federal policies.

The spokesperson said some of Haley’s priorities include banning late-term abortion, saving babies born during a failed abortion, protecting the rights of conscience for doctors and nurses, making adoption easier, offering more resources and support for pregnant women, and not punishing women who get abortions.

Mike Pence: supports 15-week ban

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Former vice president Mike Pence, who has been polling between 3% and 7% but is still short of the donor threshold to make it on the debate stage, has campaigned strongly on the issue of life and his support for restrictions on abortion at the federal level. 

Pence said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, in late July that pro-life Americans “will have a champion in the White House” if he is elected president and emphasized that abortion is not simply a state issue. 

“In the Dobbs decision, the question of abortion was returned to the states AND the American people,” Pence shared. “I will always champion protections for the unborn in states across the country and in our nation’s capital!”

The former vice president said on Fox News Sunday in late June that all Republican candidates should support, at a minimum, a ban on abortions after 15 weeks. 

“I did this week call on every other candidate for the Republican nomination to support a minimum standard of a 15-week ban on abortion at the national level,” Pence said. “That would align American law with most of the countries in Europe that literally ban abortion after 12 to 15 weeks.”

CNA reached out to the Pence campaign for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Tim Scott: supports 15-week ban

Sen. Tim Scott, who has been polling around 3%, has said he is pro-life and would support a 15-week ban on abortion and the strongest pro-life legislation that can make it through Congress. 

A spokesperson for Scott’s campaign referred to comments the senator made in a Des Moines Register op-ed from late June when reached by CNA. 

“I am 100% pro-life,” Scott said. “When I am president of the United States, I will sign the most pro-life legislation the House and Senate can put on my desk. We should begin with a 15-week national limit. Poll after poll shows that a clear majority of Americans oppose abortion in the second trimester and agree it should be restricted. Which raises the real question: Why is the radical left OK with aborting babies up until the day they are born?”

Scott reiterated his support for a 15-week ban in a post on X

“Republicans should not be retreating on life,” Scott said. “We need a national 15-week limit to stop blue states from pushing abortion on demand. … Without life, nothing else matters.” 

Vivek Ramaswamy: does not support 15-week ban

Political outsider and American businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who has garnered sporadic poll results as low as 2% and as high as 10%, is one of the few Republican candidates to firmly reject a 15-week ban on abortion.

Although Ramaswamy said during the All-in podcast in late July that he is personally pro-life and that he believes the U.S. Supreme Court was correct to overturn Roe V. Wade, he also added that he does not think abortion is a federal issue. 

“I think the federal government should stay out of it,” Ramaswamy said. “...I think I’m the only Republican candidate in this field who has come out and said that I would not support a federal abortion ban of any kind.”

Ramaswamy added that his opposition to federal abortion restrictions is “on principled ground.”

“I am grounded on constitutional principles and I think there’s no legal basis for the federal government to legislate it,” Ramaswamy said. “The 10th Amendment says that part of the American experiment is that we have diversity across states and I think this is a state’s issue.”

However, he added that if a legal scholar convinces him that “the constitution gives the federal government the authority to sign that into law, so be it.”

CNA could not reach the Ramaswamy campaign prior to publication. 

Chris Christie: Does not support 15-week ban

The former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who has mostly polled around 3% or lower, has said abortion policy is a state issue instead of a federal one, but that he would be open to federal policy if the national consensus changes. 

When asked whether Christie would support a 15-week ban, a campaign spokesperson referred CNA to comments the former governor made on ABC This Week in late June. 

“Conservatives, like me, for the last 50 years, have been arguing this is not a federal issue,” Christie said. “It's a state issue, and it's something the states should decide. The Dobbs case one year ago gave us the opportunity to let each state make this decision.” 

Christie added that he would be open to the federal government enacting policy if the national consensus changes.

“We then could see a national consensus develop,” Christie said. “If the national consensus develops, I have no problem with the federal government then stepping in and confirming that national consensus. But I think we should allow the states and the people of the states to be heard on this issue. It's an incredibly important issue.”

Doug Burgum: Does not support 15-week ban

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who is consistently polling at 1% or lower, has vowed that he would not support an abortion ban at the federal level even though he signed a near-total ban on the procedure as governor. 

Burgum has said he supports the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and has on several occasions said that he would not sign a federal abortion ban and that he believes abortion restrictions should be decided at the state level. In an interview with Meet the Press in mid-July, the governor reiterated this position. 

“This is the decision that should be left to the states,” the governor said. “And what’s going to pass in North Dakota is not ever going to pass in California and New York, and wouldn’t even pass in the state of Minnesota.…That’s why I’m on the record saying that I would not sign a federal abortion ban.”

The Burgum campaign did not respond to requests for comment from CNA. 

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