Blue State Blues: Trump’s Pragmatic Approach on IVF, Abortion Shows the Way

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters at his c
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President Donald Trump issued a remarkable statement last week after Alabama’s highest court decided that frozen embryos created in the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) were to be considered human beings.

The ruling caused panic among physicians and patients, as it seemed IVF services might become inaccessible for women and couples, since the process usually involves creating multiple embryos, few of which are then implanted to cause pregnancy.

For some — probably a minority — of religious conservatives, there was no problem with the Alabama ruling. Several faiths have problems with IVF, for a variety of reasons. The Catholic Church, for example, opposes creating embryos outside the sexual relationship between a husband and wife.

But for many religious conservatives, and for the pro-life movement in general, the Alabama IVF ruling presented two urgent problems: one political, and one philosophical.

The political problem became immediately obvious. Democrats seized on the IVF ruling as just the latest example of Republican attempts to control women’s bodies. Already, Democrats have mobilized pro-choice voters in reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs (2022), striking down the “right” to abortion granted in Roe v. Wade (1973). They have continued to attack conservative abortion legislation; the IVF decision provided more fodder for the fight.

The philosophical problem was more subtle but no less challenging. For decades, the pro-life movement has stressed the value of motherhood, as it urged the country and the courts to recognize that life may begin at conception. Now, however, it has become apparent that treating conception as the origin of human life could prevent many women from becoming mothers (and men from becoming fathers), given that IVF is the last resort for many would-be parents.

That’s where Trump came in. He posted on his Truth Social network:

Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families. We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder! That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every State in America. Like the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans, including the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby. Today, I am calling on the Alabama Legislature to act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama. The Republican Party should always be on the side of the Miracle of Life – and the side of Mothers, Fathers, and their Beautiful Babies. IVF is an important part of that, and our Great Republican Party will always be with you, in your quest, for the ULTIMATE JOY IN LIFE!

Trump placed the focus on the goal of IVF: the “Miracle of Life,” i.e. the baby — and, secondarily the proud parents. He left the task of wrestling with ethical issues to the state legislature, where he has also said abortion should be decided.

The pro-life movement used to be adamant about letting states decide their own policies — until, suddenly, they could. Then, after Dobbs, there were calls for federal abortion laws. Many of these were motivated by the sincere desire to save human life, and the principle — familiar from the civil rights movement, and from today’s left-wing “progressive” movements — that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. But it was also betrayal of the states’ rights argument.

Likewise the effort — again, however well-intentioned by the desire to save life, or prohibit human trafficking — to restrict travel for the sake of abortions. Objections to such travel are on firmer ground when they apply to the military, which should not be subsidizing abortion in any way; or when they apply to minors traveling for “gender-affirming” drugs and surgery. But laws on abortion travel are quite reasonably seen as an effort to nationalize state policies.

Trump’s pragmatic approach focuses on the moral high ground in the debate, which in this case is occupied both by “Mothers” and by “Beautiful Babies.” (Too often, the different sides in these debates stress only one or the other.) He also places the burden on states to decide the issue, because different states have different values, and because state legislatures are closer to the people than Congress. This is as close to a consensus approach as is possible on the issue.

Somehow, despite the many provocative things Trump says, he is often the only voice of common sense on social issues. As the debate continues, he would do well to consider the example of Barack Obama, who — despite being radically pro-choice — managed to find common ground with pro-lifers by stressing the need for fewer abortions (even as he made more abortions possible). Trump should continue to focus on mothers, and babies, and conservatives should follow.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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