Trump walks back remarks on birth control restrictions

Former US President and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, on May 11, 2024 (Jim WATSON)
Former US President and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, on May 11, 2024 (Jim WATSON)

Donald Trump on Tuesday walked back remarks that he was open to restrictions on contraception, after an outcry that underlined his presidential campaign's vulnerability on reproductive rights issues.

"I have never, and will never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control, or other contraceptives," Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, using all caps.

"I do not support a ban on birth control, and neither will the Republican Party!"

Trump's post appeared to dial down an earlier comment that he was "looking at" the issue, and is the latest case of the former president and 2024 presumptive Republican nominee giving mixed signals on his views on reproductive rights.

"We're looking at that, and I'm going to have a policy on that very shortly," he told news outlet KDKA earlier when asked if he supported any restrictions on a person's right to contraception.

"I think it's a smart decision, but we'll be releasing it very soon," said Trump, who often boasts of his three US Supreme Court picks being decisive in its 2022 decision to overturn the decades-old ruling that federally guaranteed abortion rights.

Polls show the vast majority of Americans approve of birth control, with 88 percent seeing it as "morally acceptable," according to a 2023 Gallup poll.

President Joe Biden's re-election campaign, which views reproductive rights as a vote-winning issue and has rallied around Trump's role in helping overturn Roe v Wade, quickly pounced on his comments.

"Women across the country are already suffering from Donald Trump's post-Roe nightmare, and if he wins a second term, it's clear he wants to go even further by restricting access to birth control and emergency contraceptives," said spokeswoman Sarafina Chitika.

Trump has often wobbled in his views on women's issues, notably abortion. While his core conservative supporters want tougher restrictions, sweeping bans on the procedure have typically been rejected by voters at the ballot box.

In March he suggested he would favor a national abortion ban after 15 or 16 weeks of pregnancy, but later backtracked to say such decisions should be left up to the states, of which 21 have total or partial abortion bans in place.

Trump told Time magazine in April that he had "pretty strong views" on women's access to mifepristone, a medication used for abortions, and would share his views on it within a week, but never did so.

The Supreme Court's 2022 ruling has cost Republicans politically. The party turned in a disappointing performance in midterm elections that year, and conservatives have repeatedly lost in referendums and other votes concerning abortion.

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