Specific pro-life policies are missing from President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda for his first 100 days in office, yet pro-life groups are nevertheless hopeful about the future of his administration.
Despite the omission, Trump did include “two major pro-life issues,” said Tom McClusky, vice president of Government Affairs of March for Life Action: “nominating a Supreme Court Justice and repealing Obamacare.”
“It is troubling that other pro-life policies are absent from the Trump administration's current list of priorities in the first 100 days; however, personnel is policy,” McClusky told EWTN News Nov. 22.
In his view, Trump's appointments to his transition team and staff are helping create “one of the most pro-life administrations since President Reagan.”
For instance, Trump has named Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be his attorney general and Reince Priebus to be his White House chief of staff – two figures who have drawn praise from pro-life groups like National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List.
In Trump’s “Contract With the American Voter,” where he laid out his agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency, he promised action in the areas of trade, immigration, and the economy. Notably missing, however, were any specific pro-life policy proposals.
Moreover, he has not said if he will reinstate the Mexico City Policy, something that recent presidents have either overturned or reinstated in their first days in office. This policy, begun by President Reagan, bans U.S. foreign aid from going to non-governmental organizations that promote abortions.
President Clinton overturned the policy during his first days in office, President George W. Bush reinstated it right after he entered the White House, and President Obama again overturned it at the beginning of his first term.
Upholding or opposing the policy at the beginning of a president’s time in office is a predictor of how his administration will treat the abortion issue, but the policy is absent from Trump's written agenda.
Trump had promised earlier during the campaign to support pro-life legislation like a late-term abortion ban; to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider; and to uphold the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funds, largely through the HHS department, from going toward most abortions. He also had created a “Pro-Life Coalition” headed by the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser.
And Trump's desire to reform or repeal the Affordable Care Act is seen by some as an important measure to fight abortion.
“Obamacare was the largest expansion of abortion since Roe and Doe – so repealing Obamacare is no small feat,” McClusky explained.
Pro-life groups had opposed the passage of the health care law in 2010 because they claimed it would fund elective abortions.
In 2014, a government investigation found that federal dollars were probably funding elective abortions. In many cases the oversight mechanisms set up to ensure that abortion coverage was paid for separately from federal subsidies were not being followed.
Also, in several states, all health plans on those exchanges included abortion coverage, violating the law that a plan free of abortion coverage be offered to those who could not pay conscientiously for coverage that included abortions.
In his 100 days agenda, Trump also claimed he would undo “every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.”
Whether this would include the repeal of any pro-abortion executive actions – like Obama’s undoing of conscience protections for health care workers or his repeal of the Mexico City policy – is unclear.
Regarding the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, Trump has in the past promised to appoint a pro-life justice, although in the final presidential debate he would not say if he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling which decided a woman’s right to an abortion.
Yet pro-life groups remain optimistic for the near future.
On the day after the recent presidential election, Dannenfelser called Trump and his pro-life running mate Mike Pence’s victory “an historic moment for the pro-life movement.”
“We are poised to make the biggest executive, legislative, and judicial advances for the protection of unborn children and their mothers since Roe v. Wade was decided,” she said Nov. 9, noting the goals of “ending painful late-term abortions, codifying the Hyde Amendment, defunding Planned Parenthood, and appointing pro-life Supreme Court Justices.”
“Donald Trump has committed to every single one of these goals,” she said.
McClusky maintained that “It is too early to tell exactly how this will all turn out, but there is great hope amidst the pro-life community for the future. And in the meantime, we will continue to watch the other nominations closely, especially to Secretary of State and HHS.”