While running for president in 2016, billionaire real estate developer and reality television star Donald Trump made a bold promise concerning the Supreme Court that many of us considered almost too good to be true.
“The Justices that I am going to appoint will be pro-life,” he told moderator Chris Wallace during a heated debate with the Democratic Party nominee, former first lady Hillary Clinton. He correctly added that reversing Roe v. Wade would send the issue of abortion “back to the individual states.”
President Trump kept his promise, appointing three of the five justices who ultimately voted to overturn Roe in June of 2022. The reversal of Roe in the Dobbs v. Jackson decision made clear the United States Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, and that states are permitted to restrict it.
This remarkable turn of events led me—among many others—to declare Mr. Trump the most pro-life president of my lifetime. From the fall of Roe to reinstating the Mexico City policy banning taxpayer-funded abortions overseas, appointing pro-life judges, permitting states to choose not to send Title X family planning funds to Planned Parenthood, and being the first president to speak in person at the March for Life, Trump’s stalwart support for the most innocent was peerless.
Because of this remarkable record, I was perplexed and disappointed when the former president asserted on Meet the Press that heartbeat legislation proposed or passed in some states was a “terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”
With all due respect, Mr. President, and with gratitude for the path you’ve helped pave as a champion for the preborn, it is never a mistake to pass laws that protect and defend innocent life. In Texas alone, more than 10,000 babies have been saved since Dobbs. During the time when Roe v. Wade enshrined a national right to abortion, from 1973 until last year, more than 63 million babies were aborted. That number, courtesy of research from the National Right to Life Committee, roughly equals the population of France.
As a nation, we must promote a culture of life, even if it may not seem politically expedient to do so. This is not a matter of politics. It’s a matter of principle. To compromise in this arena cheapens the value and dignity of every person—and threatens to make humanity expendable and disposable.
Many people, including the former president, seem interested in finding some compromise when it comes to the matter of abortion restrictions. During his Meet the Press interview, President Trump told moderator Kristen Welker, “I’m going to come together with all groups, and we’re going to have something that’s acceptable.”
President Trump thinks pragmatism is possible when it comes to abortion, but history and present-day circumstances suggest otherwise. Mr. Trump may pride himself on his ability to negotiate deals, but there is no deal that zealots determined to enshrine the right to kill preborn children will accept. Radical advocates repeatedly deny that they support abortion up to birth—i.e., late-term abortion—but none ever tell us at what point they would accept any restrictions whatsoever.
Even so, debate over such limits raises a question: why can a baby be saved at four to nine months’ gestation, but not at one to two months? It’s still a baby.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bore the brunt of President Trump’s ire, specifically for signing his state’s six-week ban on abortion. Presidential political campaigns can be spirited and contentious, and we can assume that in the heat of battle, a lot of charges will be leveled between now and next November. But the passage of the Florida legislature’s heartbeat bill, along with its governor’s support, unfolded precisely how candidate Trump predicted it would—and should.
When it comes to abortion and the protection of innocent life, during this campaign political calculation is inevitable, even expected. But if we want to make America a less hostile and more civil society for everyone, we must start by respecting human life at all stages of development. Abortion is erasing the future and eliminating boys and girls who would grow up to become men and women who would cure cancer, invent life-saving technologies, solve impossible problems, compose symphonies, and help create a more beautiful culture and society.
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family.
Originally Published in Newsweek.