According to a CNN entrance poll of participants in Iowa’s 2024 Republican presidential caucuses, over half of voters who support former President Donald Trump are in favor of banning most or all abortions nationwide.
The poll surveyed 1,628 Iowa voters. Only a fourth of the Trump voters said that abortion was an important issue for them, while nearly half of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis voters said it was their top issue.
Trump finished 30 points ahead of competitors DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who suspended his campaign the day after the caucuses.
Trump has declined to publicly support a federal ban on abortion, much to the chagrin of anti-abortion organizations. The former president has bragged about his role in the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, but during a Fox News town hall, he told a voter who had asked him to reassure her about his commitment to abortion bans without exceptions, “I love where you’re coming from, but we still have to win elections.”
In an April 2023 statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said about Trump, “We will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections.”
But recently anti-abortion groups appear to have changed course and have begun focusing on what a Trump administration could do about abortion law if he were elected.
According to a 920-page document titled “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise,” published by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, the plan in the event a Republican president were elected would be to restrict or end access to abortion medication.
The document discusses reversing the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of abortion medication and criminalizing the sale of the pills by mail using the Comstock Act. The federal law, which is over 150 years old, prohibits sending through the mail “[e]very article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion.”
The Comstock Act has rarely been enforced, the New York Times reports. Starting in the 1930s, federal courts began challenging the law and limiting its power. The law remains on the books but is viewed as weak and outdated.
“Abortion pills pose the single greatest threat to unborn children in a post-Roe world,” page 457 of the document reads. Page 562 of the document says that the Department of Justice should “announce its intent to enforce federal law against providers and distributors of such pills” in the next conservative administration.
Over half of all abortion care in the United States involves the oral medication abortion regimen of mifepristone followed by misoprostol or of misoprostol alone. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drugs in 2000.
In mid-December 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court decision that could restrict access to mifepristone.
A recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that people across the nation were stockpiling abortion meditation in case the Supreme Court rules against the FDA’s approval and the drug is taken off the market.
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts is the founder of Aid Access, a nonprofit organization based in the Netherlands that prescribes and mails abortion medication to people in the U.S. In February of 2023, Gomperts told the Guardian that people should be stashing the medication preemptively. “If you’re in a war zone, and the war is coming, you also make sure you have enough food in your house. This is how it feels. It really is a war. It’s a war on women,” she said.
Some states without bans on abortion care still have legislation that, in one way or another, limits access to abortion care. In Pennsylvania, pregnant patients must undergo a counseling session and an ultrasound 24 hours before obtaining abortion care.