Trump pushes Arizona lawmakers to 'remedy' state abortion ruling that he says 'went too far'
Posted: April 12, 2024 - 5:12pm

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump urged Arizona lawmakers on Friday to swiftly “remedy” the state Supreme Court ruling allowing prosecutors to enforce a near—total abortion ban that he declared anew “went too far.”

Trump has repeatedly expressed pride in his role in overturning the national constitutional right to an abortion by appointing three conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court during his one term as president. However, his messaging in the aftermath of the Arizona ruling that a ban on the books since 1864 is constitutional illustrates his struggle to neutralize what has become a potent political weapon for Democrats.

His comments Friday came hours before Vice President Kamala Harris was to speak about abortion rights in Tucson. President Joe Biden and his allies blame Trump for sharply curtailing abortion access, and the issue has become a major liability for the former president in one of the handful of swing states that could decide the November election.

Trump's demand for the state to ease its abortion law came just days after he said abortion rights should be left to the states to decide. At the time he added: “and whatever they decide must be the law of the land — in this case, the law of the state.”

On Friday, he struck a firm note on what the state must decide.

“The Governor and the Arizona Legislature must use HEART, COMMON SENSE, and ACT IMMEDIATELY, to remedy what has happened," Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform. “Remember, it is now up to the States and the Good Will of those that represent THE PEOPLE.”

He did not call for a specific course of action, such as repealing or watering down the law. He did say that “ideally” abortion restrictions should include exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

“Arizona Legislature, please act as fast as possible!” Trump wrote.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has called for the repeal of the abortion ban, and a handful of Republican legislators from battleground districts have supported that move. But the Republican majority in the state House shut down an attempted repeal on Monday amid shouts from Democrats of “Shame! Shame!”

The Legislature's most vocal critics of repealing the law are among the body's most devoted Trump supporters.

Under pressure over his role in eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, Trump tried to chart a middle course on Monday, releasing a video in which he said he proudly paved the way for the court's decision and that the matter should be left to states. He declined to endorse a national ban.

But the Arizona Supreme Court ruling the next day showed what can happen when the issue is left to states. The Arizona ruling paves the way for enforcement of a law first passed in 1864, which allows for the imprisonment of abortion providers at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother's life is at risk. It does not include exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

“Nothing he says can undo the chaos and cruelty his actions have inflicted on women across America,” Sarafina Chitika, a Biden campaign spokesperson, said Friday in response to Trump's latest comments.

Arizona voters backed Biden in 2020 by fewer than 11,000 votes, just the second time in seven decades that the state voted for a Democrat, and both Trump and Biden see the state as a crucial battleground again this year.

According to AP VoteCast, a broad survey of the electorate, 61% of Arizona voters in the 2022 midterm elections said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Just 6% said it should be illegal in all cases.

Two-thirds of midterm voters in Arizona said the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade was an important factor for their vote in that election.

About 6 in 10 Arizona voters in that election said they would favor a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.