New York Times Reports Trump Backs 16-Week Abortion Ban; Campaign Pushes Back

The article claims that former President Trump has told advisers and allies that he likes the idea of a 16-week ban on abortion, with exceptions for rape and incest and to save the life of the mother.

President Donald Trump in 2017
President Donald Trump in 2017 (photo: Drop of Light/Shutterstock)

A New York Times article published Friday afternoon claims that former President Donald Trump told advisers he would support a national ban on abortion at 16 weeks of pregnancy, but the campaign has somewhat pushed back on the report.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt called the report a “fake news New York Times article” and said that Trump would do as he had previously stated: “sit down with both sides and negotiate a deal that everyone will be happy with.”

The campaign’s response, however, did not explicitly claim that any of the information in the article was inaccurate and did not comment on whether Trump would support a federal law restricting abortion at the 16-week mark.

Charlie Stadtlander, the director of external communications for newsroom and opinion at The New York Times, told CNA that the reporting is accurate.

“The campaign’s statement doesn’t deny anything in the Times’ reporting, which we stand behind completely,” Stadtlander said.

The article claims that Trump has told advisers and allies that he likes the idea of a 16-week ban on abortion, with exceptions for rape and incest and to save the life of the mother. The article cites as its sources “two people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s deliberations,” but both individuals remained anonymous.

According to the article, the former president has privately said that he plans to wait until the end of the Republican primary before giving specific policy plans about abortion so that he does not alienate social conservatives.

The report further states that Trump is dismissive of Republicans who do not support “the three exceptions” when considering a potential vice-presidential running mate.

“Know what I like about 16?” The New York Times claims Trump said to one of its sources. “It’s even. It’s four months.”

Trump has a long-standing working relationship with at least two of the reporters from The New York Times who co-wrote the article: Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan. The former president has provided both reporters with exclusive interviews in the past.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, voiced support for setting a federal 16-week standard. The organization had previously feuded with Trump for not taking a stronger stance against abortion.

“We strongly agree with President Trump on protecting babies from abortion violence at 16 weeks when they feel pain,” Dannenfelser said in a statement. “A majority of Americans support this compassionate position.”

For months on the campaign trail, Trump has sidestepped questions about the specific abortion policies he would support if he is elected president again. When asked, the former president has consistently said that the federal government should play a role in protecting life and that he would sign something that people will like.

In a Fox News town hall on Jan. 10, Trump told a pro-life voter that “I think you’re going to be happy in the end” and that “we’re going to get something that people want, that people will like.”

The Trump campaign’s response to The New York Times article echoed some other statements the former president has made, specifically in reference to Trump’s role in the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and his criticism of President Joe Biden’s pro-abortion agenda.

“President Trump appointed strong Constitutionalist federal judges and Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the decision back to the states, which others have tried to do for over 50 years,” the campaign statement read.

“Joe Biden and virtually every Democrat in Congress is on the record supporting radical on-demand abortion up until the moment of birth, and after birth, as well as using American tax dollars to fund the killing of the most vulnerable.”

Biden and most Democratic lawmakers support codifying the abortion standards that existed in the precedent set by Roe v. Wade prior to its reversal. Biden has rejected the characterization of his position as support for “on-demand abortion.”

The proposed codification language would legalize abortion nationwide until the point of viability, which is when the unborn child can survive outside of the womb. However, the language does not set a week-based limit. Instead, it allows the woman’s physician, who is often the abortionist, to determine whether the unborn child is viable.