It can be tough to keep track of each major presidential candidate’s stances on issues, especially because they may tweak these stances depending on their audience. Here is a pro/con list summarizing the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Green Party candidates’ views on abortion. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson will not be included in the debates, but information about their stances is still useful. If positions shift, this list remains relevant simply to record each person’s past sentiments.
Con: Stein supports Obamacare and wants the government to provide, “full access to contraceptive and reproductive care.” She tweeted in early April that “the right to an abortion” is under the umbrella of reproductive healthcare.
Her campaign website also notes she supports rescinding the Obama Administration’s ban on the “morning after” pill.
Pro: Stein’s positions offer no gains to the pro-life cause. But based on Stein’s standing in polls, she isn’t a viable candidate. Also, her radical positions will likely turn off a portion of the electorate. They may see her position as hypocritical because she values treating, “energy as a human right,” but not unborn life as one.
Summary: A vote for Stein is a vote against unborn life.
Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party
Con: Johnson respects the “legal right” to not “be subjected to prosecution or denied access to health services by politicians.” He has said he “supports women’s rights to choose up until viability of the fetus.” In the end, he considers the issue a highly personal choice, and hasn’t defended national legislation to protect unborn life.
Pro: Johnson supported late-term abortion bans when he was Governor of New Mexico (1995-2003).
Summary: A vote for Johnson will most likely support the status quo of abortion in terms of the federal government not making fetus-friendly policies.
Donald Trump, Republican Party
Con: Trump has changed his position on abortion multiple times.
In 1999, he was “pro-choice in every respect,” and didn’t even support bans for partial-birth abortion.
In 2011 and 2015, Trump said he had a change of heart after seeing how great his friend’s child was. This couple had opted to keep the child.
In January 2015, Trump said he was pro-life with caveats of the “life of the mother, incest, and rape.” When asked if an abortion that wasn’t performed for the mother’s health or life is murder, Trump said, “it depends when.” He avoided directly answering whether an unborn baby is alive early in a pregnancy.
Many people argue that Trump will back a pro-life Supreme Court Justice. But as Ben Shapiro pointed out, “Republicans are highly likely to lose the Senate to Democrats. Does anyone truly think Trump has the stomach to fight for a constitutional conservative on the Court when he thinks that Supreme Court justices prosecute crimes and sign bills?”
Pro: Trump’s letter this month stated that as president he would try to nominate pro-life Supreme Court Justices, sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law, defund “Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions,” federally fund community health centers, and make the Hyde Amendment “permanent law.”
This letter is more recent than his pro-choice and lukewarm pro-life remarks.
Summary: Trump’s new plan to defend pro-life principles is needed. However, his flip-flops in the not-too-distant past should remind pro-lifers that another switch would be keeping with precedent. Trump should be a cautious choice for pro-life voters given his inconsistent record and predictions that he would poorly manage his commitments due to ignorance or lack of a philosophical foundation.
Con: Like Stein, Clinton defends Obamacare. She’s also been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Clinton said she disagreed with “the reasoning as well as the conclusion” of the Supreme Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, and dubbed the conclusion, “a really bad slippery slope.”
In January 2016, Clinton said in an interview: “I am not only against defunding Planned Parenthood, but I would like to see Planned Parenthood even get more funding.” She’s affirmed that she “would support congressional efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment.” Clinton has also said that “certainly the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”
Her website spells out her goals: to “defend access to affordable contraception, preventive care, and safe and legal abortion - not just in principle, but in practice.”
Pro: The only positive outcome on abortion on a national level under a Clinton presidency would be in spite of, not because of, her efforts.
Summary: Clinton is undoubtedly the worst candidate to choose from a pro-life perspective.
This year’s candidate options aren’t optimal for the pro-life community, but the Republican candidate is the safest bet. Regardless of what occurs on the federal level, the battle is heating up in the states. Just over a year ago, one of Hillary Clinton’s own statements admits “a dangerous trend we are witnessing across the country. In just the first three months of 2015, more than 300 bills have been introduced in state legislatures — on top of the nearly 30 measures introduced in Congress — that restrict access to abortion.” A pro-choice candidate may win the presidency, but we have everything to gain in the states.