NEWS
19/01/2018 19:10 GMT | Updated 19/01/2018 19:12 GMT

Donald Trump Cements U-Turn On Abortion View By Comparing US Laws To North Korea

'It is wrong. It has to change.'

Donald Trump has described US abortion laws as “among the most permissive in the world” and compared them to those in countries such as China and North Korea.

In a speech to anti-abortion activists at the annual March for Life, the President pledged his administration would always defend “the right to life” in order to “build a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished”.

Trump, who was introduced by Vice-President Mike Pence as a ”tireless defender of life and conciseness in America,” has made a compete U-turn in his stance over the last few years.

In 2004 he joked about being talked into not aborting a surprise pregnancy.

And in 2016 he refused to answer a question on the topic from New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, who asked when he was a “swinging bachelor in Manhattan, was he ever involved with anyone who had an abortion?”

Trump replied: “Such an interesting question. So what’s your next question?”

Later that year he said his position had “evolved,” describing himself as “pro-life with exceptions,” such as in cases of rape or incest.

Carlos Barria / Reuters
Trump applauding pro-life demonstrators earlier today.

But today in a speech relayed via video link from the White House Rose Garden to thousands gathered on Washington’s National Mall, he was resolute on the matter.

“As you all know, Roe v. Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world,” he said, criticising the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion at most stages of a pregnancy.

Trump said the United States “is one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions,” mentioning China and North Korea. “It is wrong. It has to change.”

The other countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks are Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore and Vietnam, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. 

Trump listed some anti-abortion measures his administration had taken, including an announcement earlier in the day by the US Department of Health and Human Services, reports Reuters.

The agency said it was revoking Obama administration legal guidance that had sought to discourage states from trying to defund organisations that provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood.

Roe v. Wade effectively legalised abortion nationwide. In the 45 years since the decision was issued on 22 January,1973, the March for Life has been staged near the ruling’s anniversary in protest.

This year it is roughly coinciding with the 2018 Women’s March, marking the one-year anniversary of the largest single-day protest in American history in protest of Trump’s inauguration.

Sunday’s event is themed “Power to the Polls,” and will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The organisers chose Nevada because it’s a key battleground state in the 2018 midterm elections, and because the city “was rocked by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history” this year, according to the Women’s March website.

Americans tend to split roughly down the middle on abortion access, with 49 percent saying they supported it and 46 percent saying they opposed it in a 2017 Gallup poll.