Donald Trump—he of the incomparably trigger-happy Twitter feed—has been oddly silent in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that devastated the pro-life movement.
And that has some pro-lifers worried.
“It’s a shame,” said Penny Nance, who heads the social conservative group Concerned Women for America.
Yesterday—about 26 hours ago, to be exact—the Supreme Court ruled that Texas’s restrictions on abortion providers and clinics created an undue burden to women seeking the procedure. Moments after the release of the ruling, Hillary Clinton tweeted that it was “a victory for women,” and followed up that the next president should ensure that “women aren’t ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights.”
Trump, meanwhile, has kept completely mum on the issue. Despite making overtures earlier this month to the pro-life, social conservative, and Evangelical Christian leaders that influence millions of conservative voters and activists—he hosted hundreds of them in New York City about a week ago—he has opted out on sounding off on their biggest issue.
And they’re pissed.
“This is the biggest abortion decision that has come down in years and Hillary Clinton was quick to comment—was all over Twitter—and yet we heard crickets from Donald Trump,” Nance said. “I’m still waiting. I’m still waiting. He needs to say something.”
And Bob Vander Plaats, who heads the socially conservative Iowa Family Leader and who previously endorsed Ted Cruz, said Trump’s silence gives him pause.
“I think it gives all pro-life leaders pause,” he said. “I think it gives all people that are looking for life as their issue, who are looking to support a presidential candidate—it gives them an unnecessary pause. There shouldn’t have to be a pause here. It could have been something that would have fueled potential support for Mr. Trump.”
The pro-life community has long been suspicious of Trump because of his history of defending late-term abortion and his financial support for a host of pro-choice politicians. And when he argued that the federal government should continue to fund Planned Parenthood, he won praise from the abortion provider—and outrage from social conservatives. Conservative Christians have also long felt uncomfortable with his history of less-than-Christian sexcapades.
Later, he seemed to overcompensate in his campaign-trail efforts, calling for women who get abortions to be punished—a position that most pro-life organizations don’t actually support. They felt his comment did serious damage to their PR efforts, and it only served to further undermine their fondness for him.
And his silence on a ruling that may be viewed as the 21st century’s Roe v. Wade isn’t comforting.
Still, pro-lifers aren’t univocal in their displeasure. Fr. Frank Pavone, who heads the Roman Catholic group Priests for Life, said he cares more about Trump’s promise to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices than about his failure to release a statement.
“The Supreme Court case is worthy of commentary from all prominent Americans, but more important than having Mr. Trump say something about this decision is having him do something about it, like nominating pro-life judges and signing pro-life legislation, which he has already promised to do,” Pavone said in a statement.
And, at least in theory, Trump can keep that promise without paying any attention at all to what the Supreme Court actually does.