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donald trump stands in front of a pro life sign speaking at the march for life in 2020U.S. President Donald Trump addresses thousands of pro-life supporters during the 47th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 24, 2020. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America pushed back April 20, 2023, on a statement from the former president's campaign that abortion should be left to the states and not be a federal issue after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its June 2022 Dobbs decision. (OSV News photo/Leah Millis, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — A national pro-life group pushed back on a statement from former President Donald Trump arguing that abortion should be left to the states post-Dobbs, calling the position “unacceptable.”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a group which works to elect pro-life candidates and which previously backed the one-time Republican president and many of his endorsed candidates, issued a statement April 20 criticizing comments Trump’s campaign made to The Washington Post.

“President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the state level,” a spokesperson for the Trump campaign said in an article about how the declared or likely Republican 2024 presidential contenders are navigating a shifting legal and political landscape in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The high court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and related jurisprudence that had made abortion a constitutional right, and returned the matter of regulating abortion to the legislature.

“President Trump’s assertion that the Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion solely to the states is...a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold.”

“Republicans have been trying to get this done for 50 years, but were unable to do so,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told the Post. “President Trump, who is considered the most pro-life president in history, got it done. He will continue these policies when reelected to the White House. Like President Reagan before him, President Trump supports exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, pushed back on those comments in her own April 20 statement, saying, “President Trump’s assertion that the Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion solely to the states is a completely inaccurate reading of the Dobbs decision and is a morally indefensible position for a self-proclaimed pro-life presidential candidate to hold.”

The criticism was notable for Dannenfelser and her organization, which often praised Trump for governing as “the most pro-life president in history.”

President of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America: “Life is a matter of human rights, not states’ rights.”

The Trump campaign’s statement to the Post also was noteworthy as Trump has remained largely mum about the landmark Dobbs decision. Media reports including The Washington Post’s coverage, have indicated Trump told advisers he does not wish to engage on the issue of abortion. On his Truth Social platform Jan. 1, Trump blamed the issue of abortion and pro-life voters for the Republican Party’s underperformance in the 2022 midterm election cycle.

Dannenfelser argued in response to the campaign’s statement, “Life is a matter of human rights, not states’ rights.”

“Saying that the issue should only be decided at the states is an endorsement of abortion up until the moment of birth, even brutal late-term abortions in states like California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey,” she said. “The only way to save these children is through federal protections, such as a 15-week federal minimum standard when the unborn child can feel excruciating pain.”

Dannenfelser added SBA “will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections.”

“The Supreme Court made clear in its decision that it was returning the issue to the people to decide through their elected representatives in the states and in Congress,” she said. “Holding to the position that it is exclusively up to the states is an abdication of responsibility by anyone elected to federal office. This holds especially true for the president, more than any other federal official, because he or she has a responsibility to forge national consensus and progress on the most egregious human rights violation of our time.”

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