300,000 activists marched on the nation’s capital for the 2019 March for Life. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters
It is no secret that President Trump takes definite public stances on issues; every American not living under a rock knows the president’s opinion on building the wall, and even his lesser known positions are constantly attacked and belittled by Democrats while being promoted directly to the masses via the newly established personal presidential communication, Twitter. Nonetheless, the president has been relatively quiet on his administration’s dealings with Planned Parenthood and the underlying question of abortion. The president has notably been tight lipped on this issue, which has allowed him and his administration to achieve pro-life victories sheltered from the glaring public spotlight. The 24 hour news cycle’s lack of hard reporting in the digital age allows the president to push through his agenda under the radar, and thus without dramatic backlash. At the same time, Democrats have used this lack of publicity to misrepresent the popularity and strength of the pro-life and anti-abortion movements.
It should be noted, however, that Trump himself has not always been the pro-life champion that both parties now portray him as. In an October 1999 interview, the future president described himself as “very pro-choice” and stated that he would not ban partial birth abortions in the 3rd trimester. This would change early in Trump’s presidential run when he announced he was indeed pro-life, but with exceptions in cases of harm to mother or child, rape, or incest. He proceeded to capitalize on the issue in the 2016 presidential debate with Secretary Clinton by sharply contrasting their stances on late-term abortions.
Since assuming office, President Trump has not wavered one iota in his commitment to restricting abortion rights and funding. While the entire beltway is consumed with perpetual “Mueller Madness,” the president and his administration are free to push for abortion restrictions that are not scrutinized by the general media. As recently as last month, the Department of Health and Human services redirected $48.4 million in Title X grants from Planned Parenthood affiliates to pro-life pregnancy resource alternatives like the Obria Group. Under any other president, this move would have been front page news, but with Trump’s information overload this change did not even make a ripple.
The fundamental question, though, is whether the scant coverage of the Trump administration’s Planned Parenthood policies helps or hurts the president’s silent crusade; the answer seems to be yes. Since the president has assumed office—especially after recent legislative policies in February by both New York and Virginia to lift restrictions on 3rd trimester abortions and the infamous infanticide comments made by the disgraced Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D).
Polling has shown a 17 point increase in the number of Americans identifying as pro-life, leaving the nation roughly equally divided between those who are pro-life and pro-choice.. Additionally, nearly 80% of Americans support increasing restrictions on or banning altogether 3rd trimester abortions. Despite the growing public shift, the president still benefits from the media’s silence on the issue. NGOs like Planned Parenthood and millions of Americans are fervently pro-choice and are willing to protect all abortion rights at any cost. The last thing the president needs is to create more enemies and open up another front against him direct association with the president’s in the face of withering opposition may prove to be too steep of a commitment for even the pro-life movement.
Nevertheless, the silent policy changes exemplified through Title X reforms have proven that success in implementing pro-life policies is possible without attracting the national backlash. Democrats and the pro-choice advocates have no one but themselves to blame for this shift; their obsession with Russian collusion and overplaying their hand on abortion by pushing for near infanticide, forcing the American public’s stance on the issue to evolve. While this slow but steady shift occurs, the Trump administration takes advantage and is covered by a distracted media, no pun intended, in passing pro-life policies proceed unreported.
However, this could, in fact, be a calculated move by Democrats to undermine growing support for the pro-life movement. Events such as March for Life, which drew nearly 300,000 demonstrators to Washington D.C. in January, and organizations such as Students for Life are seeing unprecedented growth, a fact not reflected by increased media coverage.
Both sides are equally charged, and Democrats, through passive resistance to the president’s under-the-radar policies, may just be attempting to take the the wind out of the sails of the pro-choice movement. As the underlying issue bubbles over to another potential court battle, Democrats will look to under-represent any public support pro-life movements may have and continue to gain.
Today’s 24-hour news cycle is truly a double-edge sword for both sides on the abortion issue. The Trump administration may benefit now from selective news coverage, but long-term, pro-life advocates may suffer as the left continues to misrepresent the rapidly growing support for restrictions on late-term abortion.