Trump is planning to slam abortion in his State of the Union speech, fanning the flames of the culture wars

  • President Donald Trump has reportedly told aides that he wants to center abortion in his State of the Union address next Tuesday.
  • This comes after a fierce debate over late-term abortions erupted this week in Virginia, where Democrats introduced a bill that would loosen some of the restrictions on third-trimester abortions.
  • “This is going to lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it’s never been lifted up before,” Trump said this week of the debate in Virginia.

President Donald Trump has reportedly told aides that he wants to discuss abortion in his State of the Union address next Tuesday.

The possible focus on the issue comes after a fierce debate over late-term abortions erupted this week in Virginia, where Democrats introduced a bill that would loosen some of the restrictions on third-trimester abortions.

“The president wants to reaffirm his commitment to pro-life things,” a Republican close to the White House told Politico in a report published Thursday, confirming that the president will make his anti-abortion position part of the annual speech. Trump also may include an anti-abortion activist among his invited guests.

Conservatives and anti-abortion activists seized on comments made by Democratic lawmakers, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, about the state bill, and framed the proposal as legalizing infanticide.

Trump said this week that the uproar in Virginia will aid the anti-abortion cause, a boon to Trump, who relies on evangelical Christians and anti-abortion conservatives to mobilize his base.

Read more: A controversial Virginia bill expanding access to late-term abortion sparked outrage on social media and was incorrectly accused of enabling ‘infanticide’

“This is going to lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it’s never been lifted up before,” he told conservative news site the Daily Caller in an interview on Wednesday.

The president also turned back to one of his campaign talking points to condemn the legislation from Virginia.

“Do you remember when I said [during a 2016 presidential debate] Hillary Clinton was willing to rip the baby out of the womb? That’s what it is, that’s what they’re doing, it’s terrible,” he said.

The Virginia bill is meant to address rare cases of severe abnormality or non-viability, making abortions legal when a woman’s health, including mental health, is at risk. This lowers the state’s current legal bar, which restricts the late-term procedure to instances in which the woman’s health would be “substantially and irredeemably” harmed by continuing the pregnancy.

Trump offered a preview of the line of attack he may deliver in his national address in a Thursday tweet.

“Democrats are becoming the Party of late term abortion, high taxes, Open Borders and Crime!” he wrote.

Third-trimester abortions are very rare. Terminations after 20 weeks of pregnancy make up just about 1% of all abortions, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump’s decision to focus on the issue also comes shortly after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed a bill decriminalizing abortion and legalizing the procedure after 24 weeks for health reasons. The governor and fellow Democrats are celebrating the measure as “the most aggressive women’s equality platform in the nation.”

New York’s Reproductive Health Act is the result of years of effort by state legislators and activists to replace New York’s nearly 50-year-old existing reproductive rights law, which classifies abortion as homicide. The new law also permits non-doctors, including nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and licensed midwives, to conduct abortions.