Pence Hints He’ll Attack Trump, DeSantis During Debate For Going Soft On Abortion

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Former Vice President Mike Pence indicated last week that he plans on attacking at least two of his GOP rivals, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for their softened stance on abortion.

“My former running mate, the governor of Florida and others are suggesting that the Supreme Court returned the question of abortion to the states. I truly do believe it’s vitally important that we seize the opportunity at the national level to advance protections for the right to life, and I’ll do so as president,” Pence told reporters while at the Iowa State Fair, according to the Associated Press (AP).

“This is a really big issue. It will be on the stage in Milwaukee,” he continued, referencing the Republican presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 23.

Mike Pence

DES MOINES, IOWA – AUGUST 11: Former U.S. Vice President and current presidential candidate Mike Pence (C) and his wife Karen Pence (L) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) tour the Iowa State Fair on August 11, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, are expected to visit the fair, a tradition in one of the first states to hold caucuses in 2024. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Though claiming to be the “most pro-life president in American history,” Trump has not indicated whether he supports a federal ban on the procedure. Instead, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung announced that the former president “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,” according to a separate report by the AP from April.

That statement drew the ire of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group which declared it would not support any candidate that did not support at least a 15-week ban on abortion at the federal level, the outlet stated.

Though DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban into law in the state of Florida in April, he has not pushed for federal restrictions on abortion. “Dobbs returned the issue to the elected representatives of the people, and so I think that there’s a role for both the federal [government] and states,” he stated in May, according to The Hill.

Polling shows the abortion question remains a divisive one for Americans with approximately 61% of those surveyed generally supporting access to abortion, while 37% remain opposed, according to NPR. Though a majority of Democrats support abortion beyond the first trimester, 42% of Democrats want to see abortion restricted. A majority of Republicans support making exceptions for abortion in cases of incest, rape or health of the mother and oppose six-week bans on abortion, opting for a longer window. (RELATED: JOSH HAMMER: The Pro-Life Dilemma And The Politics Of Prudence)

On the question of abortion restrictions, 22% of Americans believe abortion should be an option throughout pregnancy. Twelve percent say abortion should be an option within the first six months of gestation. Twenty-five percent think abortion should be restricted to the first three months of pregnancy, and 25% say abortion should only be considered in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. A total of 8% polled believed abortion should only be used to save the life of the mother while the remaining 9% argued for complete restrictions, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll conducted in April 2023.