General Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

If Trump becomes president of the US, could he ban abortion?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) July 29th, 2016 from iPhone

Trump has made stements expressing he is pro-life and expressing women who have illegal abortions should be punished.

But would the Supreme Court support him on this?


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26 Answers

Jaxk's avatar

The supreme Court has ruled on that. The President can’t change that only the court or a constitutional amendment can reverse it.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

He can try an executive order but the house and Senate would have a vote on it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The things Trump has promised would in normal times prove more than sufficient in having him declared legally insane.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Republicans presidents do not try to ban abortion. Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

They have had several moments in the past 40 years with favorable congressional numbers. But they never quite manage.

It’s a great campaign issue for them.

SmartAZ's avatar

The president can influence legislation, but he does not make laws. Even an executive order is not a law; it only applies to government employees in the executive branch. (A lot of people don’t know that.)

Darth_Algar's avatar

Other than the Supreme Court reversing its Roe v Wade ruling (not completely unimaginable if a Republican president manages to seat two conservative judges to the SCOTUS) nothing short of amending the Constitution could outlaw abortion. Republican politicians know this full and well, but they still talk the talk because it’s a great wedge issue for them.

kritiper's avatar

No. The Supreme Court upholds the law, not the President.

zenvelo's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 That isn’t how the US law works, especially with regard to a SCOTUS ruling.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
funkdaddy's avatar

So while he can’t outlaw abortion entirely, legislators in Texas have shown you don’t have to outright ban it to make it really hard to get done. And the Supreme Court doesn’t jump in immediately.

The law was eventually overturned, but the legislature shut down the majority of Texan abortion clinics by placing extra regulations on them and the doctors that work at them. The claim was it was all for the safety of women.

Three years later the SCOTUS ruled it unconstitutional, but clinics were reduced from 42 to 8 at one point. Remember that Texas is the size of France.

It was essentially a willful ignorance at every level it was executed. I don’t mean that because I disagree personally, the primary people involved weren’t even very sly about it and simply pushed it through over extraordinary resistance.

I don’t think anything on a major party platform can be dismissed and ignored.

msh's avatar

This will ever be The political hot potato. Someone in office can, as well said above, try to effect the SCOTUS, but, as in the past, no seated Justice is obligated to carry through the ideals which may have helped them get the A-OK by the Congressional confirmation soirées.
It always has mystified me- how can you ban abortion and then turn around and ban monies to help raise children? I wonder how many of those who weigh in on the decisions have adopted kids and babies “in the system”, themselves? Sorry. I believe that no one should interfere with an extraordinarily difficult and personal decision a Woman makes for herself. No one. However, those who cut the living hell out of funding needed to give a child a good pair of shoes for them to learn to walk and then run in for the rest of their lives, which side of their mouths are they speaking out of? True again from above- this issue is never going away. It will back and forth until babies are grown in gestational bottles in a lab on another planet.

Strauss's avatar

He wouldn’t be able to ban abortion, but he could appoint justices to the Federal courts (including the Supreme Court). This is the farthest-reaching and least obvious effect a President can have on the future of the Government.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Why would he bother? If you look at the laws covering abortion clinics already passed at the state level then it’s all but illegal already.

imrainmaker's avatar

What happens if State and Federal laws are contradictory to each other?

MrGrimm888's avatar

He could make the the supreme Court more conservative if more members need replacement /die.

It’s ironic he has this stance. I wonder how many women he’s forced to get abortions to protect himself?

JLeslie's avatar

Less chance with him than Cruz. I’m not worried about abortion rights with Trump, except to say if congress tries to do something Trump will probably sign off on it.

I don’t really think Trump cares about doing anything regarding this topic. I think he cares about trade, economy, national security, immigration, and terrorism.

jca's avatar

Trump could react to pressure from special interest groups, even though he may not care too much about this issue personally.

@msh: GA. I always say that. How can they cut social programs and yet want abortion outlawed? I feel that if you’re against abortion, you should be adopting foster children before you have one of your own. I know many will disagree with that stance but it seems most pro-lifers are only concerned about the baby being born. What happens to the baby after that they don’t seem to give a shit about.

funkdaddy's avatar

@imrainmaker – Federal laws technically override contradictory state laws. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution lays it out, but it usually takes a test case before anything can be clarified and enforced.

Usually the Federal government has to be the slower to act just because they are essentially reacting to the change by the State. It’s probably a good thing in the long term, but states have realized that basically anything they can get approved will be the local law for a voting cycle. It may not always be politically motivated, but it seems to be usually.

The abortion case is one example, going the other way, California has some of the loosest regulations on marijuana and they conflict with federal laws in several areas. Rather than strike down the law, they seem to be prosecuting individuals (Matthew Davies, Harborside Health Center – recently dropped).

Just showing each side to show it’s complicated, and you can’t necessarily count on Federal law stepping in and clarifying. It takes years and sometimes isn’t as clear cut as we’d like.

Remember all the things that are now commonplace that people have gone to jail for.

zenvelo's avatar

Mike Pence promises if Trump elected that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Strauss's avatar

@zenvelo That would be a real possibility, given the number of judicial appointments the next president will need to make. In addition to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, there are many vacancies in the lower Federal Courts.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Well the federal government, in itself, can’t strike down state laws (aside from the judicial branch) nor force the state to change its laws. They also can’t force the states to enforce federal law. If something is legal on the state level, but illegal on the federal level, then the federal law enforcement can enforce federal law. Marijuana is fully legal now in two states and decriminalized (to varying degrees) is several others. As it happens, however, that over the past few years the Obama administration is basically choosing not to enforce federal marijuana laws (although cases pre-dating the Obama administration’s effective cessation of enforcement may still be pending in the courts).

funkdaddy's avatar

@Darth_Algar – Matthew Davies was sentenced to jail in 2014 for a 2011 arrest and my understanding is he’s in jail now. He’s not the only one, it was just the most prominent test case because he was super squeaky clean.

Those time frames are all well within the Obama administration.

In the Harborside case discussed above, the city of Oakland actually tried to go to federal court on behalf of the facility and was told they didn’t have standing so couldn’t pursue it.

How fully legal can something be if you’re just hoping you only run into the right kind of cops?

SecondHandStoke's avatar

@Jaxk has already covered the facts with his comment.

The Constitutional separation of powers still works (no matter how much the Obama and FDR eras might have have worried you).

But this is what is telling, as far as I am concerned, so many citizens have made their mind up regarding the likes of Trump, yet they have to consult sites such as Fluther to get their facts.


This is as good as any place for me to make the following predictions:

Should Trump be elected The Wall won’t happen, the reversal of Roe V. Wade will not happen.

msh's avatar

@jca I keep thinking about the many using the now-legal services who have no idea of what Was, all that went on before. I see some of these hard won changes as a torch that needs to be passed on to the next generation. I fear that some will not appreciate the status quo until it is no longer there. Then the race will have to be started all over. But how many more women will be forever lost so needlessly? Everyone has opinions about this subject, and that is great. Live by those opinions and decisions, but do not force others to abide by them. So many shoes people have never experienced walking around in. Ah well, I hope the next torch runners are fleet-footed and strong- no matter the issue.

Darth_Algar's avatar


I did not say those cases were before the Obama administration. Nor did I say that the Obama administration never prosecuted such cases. I said in the past few years they had effectively ceased to, but that cases from before that may still be pending in the courts. Careful, not cursory, reading is helpful.

funkdaddy's avatar

@Darth_Algar – I read thoroughly and understood. To clarify my statement, I do not find your analysis accurate.

Here’s a link to a story from Slate from Apirl of this year that is a good summary. It contains many links, I’d invite you to read it all, but the short summary would be that despite guidelines and statements to the contrary, prosecution and arrests have continued, as a result Congress has asked the DOJ to explicitly stop spending funds on prosecution. Congress can only control the funding but cases have started to be thrown out only because of the standing law that they should not be paid for with public money.

The executive branch which houses “the Obama administration” has not let up, Congress has had the most effect, while the Department of Justice and drug enforcement agencies (as part of the executive branch) continue to pursue old and new convictions. We could argue intent and obligation, but the facts do not seem to support a meaningful decision by the executive branch to no longer enforce federal laws on marijuana.

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