Trump says it's up to individual states whether they want to prosecute women for abortions

"It's irrelevant whether I'm comfortable or not," he said in a new interview.

ByLalee Ibssa and Soo Rin Kim ABCNews logo
Tuesday, April 30, 2024
Judge finds Trump in violaiton of gag order as testimony resumes
Lauren Glassberg reports.

Former President Donald Trump maintained in a new interview that he'd leave it up to individual states whether or not they want to monitor women's pregnancies to determine if someone gets an abortion after their state's legal ban and then prosecute them.

The video is from a previous report.

Asked whether he's comfortable with states prosecuting women who have abortions after the legal limit, which now varies widely by state, Trump told Time magazine in a cover story published Tuesday: "It's irrelevant whether I'm comfortable or not. It's totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions."

Time also asked, "Do you think states should monitor women's pregnancies so they can know if they've gotten an abortion after the ban?"

"I think they might do that. ... You'll have to speak to the individual states," Trump responded.

When previously asked if doctors should be punished for performing abortions, Trump had said it was a "state's rights issue."

Trump also repeatedly dodged a question from Time about whether he'd vote for an abortion referendum in Florida in November that would overturn the state's six-week abortion ban -- even as he doubled down on his previous comment that he believes that time frame is "too severe."

"I don't tell you what I'm gonna vote for," he said. "I only tell you the state's gonna make a determination."

Throughout the Time article, Trump laid out his agenda for a potential second term, including how he would crack down on illegal immigration through new restrictions and sweeping deportations; how he would impose new tariffs on foreign goods; and more.

As his general election fight against President Joe Biden heats up, Trump is now seeking to stake out a more circumspect stance on abortion.

He said in early April that, with the reversal of Roe v. Wade's nationwide abortion access protections, the issue should be left to individual states as long as they include exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the pregnant woman.

"You must follow your heart on this issue but remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture and, in fact, to save our country, which is currently and very sadly, a nation in decline ... Always go by your heart. But we must win. We have to win, we are a failing nation," he said then.

However, he has also repeatedly touted his role in ending Roe by naming three of the U.S. Supreme Court justices who overruled it in 2022.

And he has called out some abortion policies he disagrees with, including saying a Civil War-era ban in Arizona, which was recently ruled to be enforceable, goes too far.

Speaking with Time, Trump declined to "commit to" vetoing a federal abortion ban as president if one were passed by Congress, though he said before that he wouldn't sign such a law.

"I won't have to commit to it because it'll never -- No. 1, it'll never happen, No. 2, it's about states' rights," he told Time. "You don't want to go back into the federal government. This was all about getting out of the federal government."

Trump declined, too, to say whether he'd veto a federal law that would outlaw abortion pills like mifepristone, saying states are now left to make such decisions. He said he has "strong views" on the issue, however, and will "probably" release those "over the next week."

"I'm leaving everything up to the states. The states are going to be different. Some will say yes. Some will say no. Texas is different than Ohio," he said.

The rival Biden campaign, and the president himself, have seized on Trump's role in overruling Roe and in abortion bans across the country. Trump's shift in rhetoric has also drawn some criticism from abortion opponents who contend he's being "inconsistent."

"It shouldn't matter where in America you live," Biden said in a speech last week. "This isn't about states' rights, this is about women's rights."

Biden's campaign manager slammed Trump's comments to Time on Tuesday, saying in a statement, "Simply put: November's election will determine whether women in the United States have reproductive freedom, or whether Trump's new government will continue its assault to control women's health care decisions."

ABC News' Libby Cathey contributed to this report.