How Trump’s Campaign Became More Pro-Life than Trump

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Last week Donald Trump issued a signed list of pro-life commitments:

  • Nominating pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.
  • Defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and re-allocating their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women.
  • Making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.

These pledges are the latest in a long string of pro-life efforts by the Trump campaign, including the appointment of an advisory council of Christian leaders, a solid pro-life VP pick in Mike Pence, the hiring of pro-life operative Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, and finally the announcement of a new campaign arm dedicated exclusively to a pro-life ground game and run by pro-life political action committee president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

But in the past, Donald Trump has plainly stated he was just as “totally pro-choice” as one would expect a New York-based entertainer and pop-culture figure to be. That’s one major reason why I (and Catholic Vote) vigorously opposed Donald Trump’s candidacy against far more reliably pro-life candidates during the primary.

Understandably, some are still skeptical of Trump’s “conversion” on this important issue. I sympathize, but it is of course impossible to know for certain whether Trump himself has had a change of heart. Here are three things we do know:

  1. A number of outstanding pro-life leaders have resisted Trump’s pro-choice leanings with public statements and political pressure.
  2. Those pro-life leaders succeeded in pushing the Trump campaign to be far more pro-life than most of us ever dared to hope.
  3. Many of those same pro-life leaders are now intimately involved in running the Trump campaign, and their influence shows.

Pastors Talk Back

In June the Trump campaign created an advisory council of Evangelical Christian leaders, most of whom are staunchly pro-life. One member of that council is James Robison (incidentally a cofounder of The Stream, where I am a columnist).

After joining the advisory council, Robison reported that its relationship with Mr. Trump was not a “meaningless photo opp.” Robison himself has told Trump “bluntly and forcefully about where I’m convinced he needs to make essential changes in his approach and rhetoric while gaining the wisdom that comes from above to become the effective leader necessary to correct our nation’s dangerous course.”

When Mr. Trump “boldly” declared in a meeting, “I want to make America great again,” Robison writes, “I responded personally and forcefully to him, ‘Only God and “We the people” can make America great again!’” It is reassuring to hear that the Trump campaign meets regularly with men like Robison, who are far from blind “Trumpers.”

Kellyanne Conway: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Make ‘Em Join You

As I wrote here at CatholicVote:

During the Republican primary, Conway actually worked to defeat the shifty Trump and ensure the nomination of the solidly pro-life Texas Senator Ted Cruz. …Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser remarked, “I have known and trusted Kellyanne Conway my entire professional life….”

Since joining the campaign, Conway has proven herself adept at using quick wit and verbal jujitsu to draw public attention to the evil of abortion. Recently an interviewer suggested to Conway that the Trump campaign hadn’t done enough to “disavow” David Duke, citing Mike Pence’s failure to call him “deplorable.” Without missing a beat, Conway replied, “Will Hillary Clinton disavow–I mean, does she think Kermit Gosnell was deplorable, who was killing black babies in Philadelphia?”

Marjorie Dannenfelser: A Leader, Not a Follower

Marjorie Dannenfelser, who chairs the Trump Campaign’s new Pro-Life Coalition, is president of the pro-life PAC Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser has been an overt critic of Trump’s forays into the pro-life cause, and played an active role in pushing the campaign to get serious about abortion.

In January, Dannenfelser and a number of other leading pro-life women issued a bold statement against Donald Trump’s “unacceptable” candidacy, in which they cited precisely his lack of credibility on the pro-life issue:

America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate.

In late March, Dannenfelser spoke out again, this time in response to comments Trump made in favor of “punishments” for women who procure abortions.

“As a convert to the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump sees the reality of the horror of abortion – the destruction of an innocent human life – which is legal in our country up until the moment of birth,” she wrote. “But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”

Here Dannenfelser’s tone is that of a patient but authoritative teacher, addressing Trump not as undisputed ruler but as a pupil in need of guidance to avoid hurting himself and others. It is gratifying that such an indomitable pro-life force as Dannenfelser is now an official member of the Trump campaign.

Neither Despair nor Naïve Hope

This has been a rough election year for serious pro-life voters, and many of us are tempted to bitterly reject the little hope that’s left to us after the primaries.

But allow me to suggest an option for pro-life voters who still hesitate to support Trump: Support his campaign instead. Vote Pence. Vote Conway. Vote Dannenfelser.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

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Stephen Herreid is Managing Editor Online at CatholicVote.org, and Executive Producer and Host of the CatholicVote Radio Hour. He is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHerreid.

12 Comments

  1. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions. I don’t believe their is an ounce of sincerity with Donald Trump and I don’t believe the Church can prohibiting me from believing this or prohibit me from acting on that belief.

    • What continues to bafel me, Kurt is the threads that the church is holding on to Trump with in hopes that he will be evangelized to where he will convert from PRO-TRUMP to PRO-LIFE. Sorry to say he is not made that way… narcissistic, bombastic, oligarchic, nepotistic, and he, like Hillary is a consummate liar. I wonder if the voters are aware that neither Clinton or Trump show any signs of transparency? She will lose if she does not give a more convincing rendition of the classified emails and he will lose if he does not release his taxes.

      • I agree with you and Kurt wholeheartedly!!! I am a convert; baptized Methodist. Never , in all my studies, readings, homilies , plain old Christian teachings, was there ANTHING to propel any follower of Christian teachings to vote for a man like Trump.
        I pray daily for the DEFEAT of Donald Trump

    • Well we know where Hillary stands. So you want a KNOWN pro abortion president??? A KNOWN religious freedom opposer through support of HHS Mandate??? A traitor to our country by selling uranium rights to Russia in the guise of a $700,000. speech by the impeached adulterer husband of hers? You need to have your head examined. Try watching him when he speaks. He has supporters from all walks of life, give him a chance for God’s sake.

  2. So you’re trying to torpedo the most Pro-Life and solidly in favor of freedom of religion Presidential nominee that we’ve had in a generation because he’s held pro-abortion views in the past as a private citizen and because other people think he’s vulgar. Your moral elitism will help elect the most radically pro-abortion, pro-death enemy of conscience that the Democrats have ever nominated. You can feel smugly sure of yourself at Hillary’s inauguration.

    • I am saying I don’t believe there is an ounce of sincerity in what he says. It is beyond the authority of the Church to tell me I must believe him or any other politician.

      • The Church does not tell you that you must believe him or any other politician. The Church tells you that you should vote. That you should be prayerful in your voting. And that your voting should reflect your WELL-DEVELOPED conscience.

        If more of us voted in the smaller and local elections with as much interest and scrutiny as we do in the bigger elections – my theory is that we would not be in this madness.

        We would still have honest debate and a vigorous exchange of ideas. We would still have pro-life Democrats. And robust parties that hosted a diversity of ideas. Perhaps a media that was somewhat inclined to report truth and fact rather than drama and partisanship.

        Instead of these two one-liner main candidates who espouse lying, cheating, slandering, and worse. In lives both personal and political.

        Politics has always been a less-than clean business. And no politician is or has been perfect and without flaws. But with today’s entertained and info-tained and checked-out electorate – we have managed to create and accept a cartoonish illusion of reality.

        Most difficult vote I have ever participated in.

        My Church, the Catholic church, tells me to vote my conscience. My conscience has developed to affirm that Life is the utmost of all rights and concepts. Without it, none of the others have a standing chance. Not social justice, not religious freedoms, not economic matters, not any ideas or morals or values… .

        As difficult it may be to set aside the noise and mess surrounding this election, please stop and pray and reflect and ask yourself: what does your conscience tell you?

  3. The headline contradicts itself, though I am glad you now support Trump. He has already taken more pro-life action than the previous nominee Romney (an awful nominee). Curious as to whether you had the same reservations about him (who pledged to do pretty much nothing from a pro-life aspect)? It appears so many of the anti-trump crowd gave Romney a pass last election but have more of this negative emotional reaction against Trump, almost to the point of hyperventilating. I’ll take Trump over McCain and Romney any day. As far as I’m concerned, Trump is the strongest nominee since Reagan. It’s interesting: in 1980 the GOP wanted Bush, not Reagan, but Reagan defeated them. This year the GOP wanted Bush, not Trump, but Trump beat them and won the nomination. Hopefully the general election will turn out the same.

  4. Cecilia Cordeiro on

    I was just listening to Catholicvote.org Rep on the Drew Mariani show re choice of candidates. I I want to say to the caller from Chicago who was concerned about Trump and a nuclear war. Let me say this “More people have died in Ted Kennedy’s car than in a nuclear war.” Having said that, the water cooler Catholics at his office are probably overwhelmingly “PROCHOICE.” Exponentially more babies have been killed in their mothers’ wombs than in all the wars the world has ever been engaged in since the beginning of time. And Hillary Clinton wants the killings to go on. She proudly supports the traffickers of abortion, accepting awards from these people who have no qualms about butchering these babes, drawing and quartering them, disemboweling them, sucking their brains out, many at an age viable outside the womb, and then supporting this same institution whose “Medical” Practioners then sell their body parts for Lambourghinis. I had actually called into the show to say that we are NOT VOTING FOR A POPE OR PASTOR IN CHIEF. WE ARE VOTING FOR SOMEBODY WITH GOOD COMMON SENSE, Somebody who will restore the country to GREAT AGAIN. All one needs to do is look at the Trump children. I am so impressed by Melania, a stay home mom, and the awesome resumes of the adult children – both male and female. The media is unabashedly for Hillary and will do anything to trash Trump. Wake up America!!!! Don’t fall for their lies!! Pray, Trust and VOTE PROLIFE, PRO FAMILY, AND PRO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY!!!

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