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Trump says states should decide abortion. Michigan voters have: What law says

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump isn’t calling for a national abortion ban, frustrating some supporters in a critical election year. (lev radin /
  • Presidential candidate Donald Trump Monday sidestepped pressure to call for a nationwide abortion ban.
  • His position is a blow to abortion opponents who had hoped a second presidency would put an end to legal abortion. 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Roe case in 2022, sending states scrambling to set up their own abortion laws and forcing the issue front and center in the 2024 presidential race.

LANSING — Laws governing abortion access should be left to the states, former President Donald Trump said Monday, declining to endorse a nationwide ban favored by some of his allies.

In a video posted to his Truth Social network site, Trump took credit for helping erase federal abortion protections by appointing U.S. Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade. But he said Monday that abortion policy and any restrictions on abortion access should now be determined at the state level by the “will of the people.” 


Trump, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, had been pressed for months to clarify his position on abortion — an issue that could help determine the outcome of the November elections.

“My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it, from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land — in this case, the law of the state,” Trump said. 


The former president did not directly say whether he would veto a federal abortion ban if congressional Republicans put it on his desk, an omission Democrats were quick to note in Michigan, where voters recently enshrined abortion rights in the state Constitution. 

Trump’s new abortion stance comes as President Joe Biden, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Democratic officials claim he would further jeopardize abortion access if given the opportunity, citing his support of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended federal abortion protections.

During a campaign stop in Arizona last week, Whitmer said any state-level rules for abortion access — including constitutional protections for abortion approved by Michigan voters in a 2022 ballot initiative — “is at risk” if Trump is re-elected. 

“When Donald Trump says he’s proud that he overturned Roe, pay attention to what he really means: he’s proud to lead the charge to let politicians interfere in women’s private medical decisions,” Whitmer wrote Monday morning on social media. “When that happens, medical providers can face jail time and women’s health is put at risk.”

Here’s what to know.

Michigan’s current law

Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 3 in November 2022, adding abortion rights to the state constitution just months after the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled decades of federal protections by overturning Roe v. Wade. 

That set Michigan apart as a haven state for people from other parts of the country seeking abortion, especially those in states that banned abortion. 

Compared to the prior year, Michigan doctors performed nearly 1,100 additional abortions for out-of-state residents in 2022 as neighboring states tightened restrictions or banned the procedure altogether following the Supreme Court’s Roe decision.

The contours of access are still being worked out in Michigan.

In November, Right to Life of Michigan filed a 36-page lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s constitutional amendment that guarantees abortion access, arguing it violates federal constitutional rights for, among others, the ‘pre-born and born following a failed abortion.’

Weeks later, Whitmer signed bills that repealed a ban on so-called ‘partial-birth abortions’ and lifted other abortion restrictions. 

Some abortion regulations stand, including a 24-hour waiting period and a prohibition on using Medicaid to pay for abortions. Last month, the ACLU of Michigan and others called for an end to the parental consent laws.

On the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court last month considered arguments over access to the abortion pill, mifepristone, the first drug first in a two-drug regimen to medically end a pregnancy. It’s a case that Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has called “terrifying.”

As it stands now, Prop 3 could be changed only through a constitutional override, which would require another statewide vote. Specific laws, including those requiring parental consent for the procedure, can be changed by the Legislature and governor. 

But changes in federal laws could make Michigan’s votes irrelevant, sharply changing the reality for those with unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. A federal ban, for instance, could overturn Proposal 3.

gynecology in the clinic
States have erected a range of abortion laws since 2022, with some banning abortion and others expanding access. In Michigan, abortion is legal, but still has some limitations. (Shutterstock)

Where Biden stands

The overturning of Roe has galvanized Democrats and pushed abortion front and center in presidential and state politics.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris support abortion access and have called for federal legislation codifying abortion access nationwide.

The Biden campaign reacted quickly to Trump’s statement Monday, accusing the former president of making a deal with abortion foes to win the presidency in 2016 by promising to fill the U.S. Supreme Court with justices who would strike down the landmark Roe case.

“Trump once said women must be punished for seeking reproductive health care – and he's gotten his wish,” Biden said, in a statement released by his campaign after Trump’s declaration.

He continued, in part: “Let there be no illusion. If Donald Trump is elected and the MAGA Republicans in Congress put a national abortion ban on the Resolute Desk, Trump will sign it into law.

Biden said his presidential opponent “is scrambling” and predicted voters will “hold him accountable” for overturning Roe. 

Why abortion remains a big issue in 2024

Abortion rights have been a big turnout driver in Michigan and other states. Democrats who won legislative majorities in 2022 have followed up Prop 3 by repealing several other abortion restrictions.

Some Michigan GOP candidates who previously opposed legal abortion rights, like U.S. Senate hopeful Mike Rogers, have said they would not push for a federal ban that would overturn the will of Michigan voters. 

Trump, in his statement, acknowledged the political calculations that preceded it. 

"You must follow your heart on this issue. But remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture and in fact, to save our country," Trump said.


The election stakes were clear Monday as Democrats predicted Trump would go back on his word if fellow Republicans sent him a federal abortion ban. 

Some anti-abortion advocates, meanwhile, criticized the former president for not taking a stronger stance. 

“Saying the issue is ‘back to the states’ cedes the national debate to the Democrats who are working relentlessly to enact legislation mandating abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. If successful, they will wipe out states’ rights,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said in a statement.

Despite their frustration with Trump, the anti-abortion group will still “work tirelessly to defeat” Biden, she said.

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