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Trump is considering a 16-week ban on abortion. Guess why he landed on that number.

Lloyd Lee   

Trump is considering a 16-week ban on abortion. Guess why he landed on that number.
  • Donald Trump said in a Fox News interview he's considering a national ban on abortion.
  • The timeline he's reportedly thinking of is 16 weeks after pregnancy, with some exceptions.

Former President Donald Trump is considering a national ban on abortion for pregnancies after 16 weeks with some exceptions, The New York Times reported — a politically fraught subject that could hurt Republicans in the 2024 election.

During an interview with Fox News' Howard Kurtz, Trump was asked about the Times report, and Fox News aired the response on Sunday with a chyron that said: "Trump embraces abortion compromise, promotes ban after 16 weeks of pregnancy."

"We're going to find out, and pretty soon, I'm going to be making a decision, and I would like to see if we could do that at all," Trump said, adding: "I would like to see if we could make both sides happy."

A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment sent during the weekend.

The former president has largely avoided directly addressing his position on a national abortion ban and has said it's something Republicans don't know how to talk about.

"I would sit down with both sides, and I'd negotiate something, and we'll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years," Trump told NBC News in September.

On the other hand, Trump hasn't been shy about touting his role in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The three justices he appointed — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — were the linchpin in overturning the landmark 1973 decision.

But one question Trump hasn't openly addressed is how he landed on the timeline for a national abortion ban. Why 16 weeks?

Most abortions — about 93% in 2020 — occur during the first trimester, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced legislation in 2022 that would institute a federal abortion ban. But his bill proposed a ban after 15 weeks, not 16.

The New York Times said there's one simpler explanation for why he's thinking of 16 weeks: It's a nice, round number.

"Know what I like about 16? It's even. It's four months," Trump said, according to the Times' unnamed source who was familiar with the former president's private conversations.

Abortion has been a motivating factor to get Democrats to the polls and a losing issue for Republicans, as Trump acknowledged in the Fox News interview.

But rather than leaving abortion policy to the states, which the overturning of Roe v. Wade has done, Trump appears to be mulling a national ban as November approaches.

"It's a play for the social conservatives," Evan Siegfried, a GOP strategist, told Business Insider.

"He's privately held this position since at least the start of the year," Siegfried said. "But now he's saying it out loud."

In a 2022 Pew Research Center survey of American adults, the majority of respondents said they believed abortion should be legal. But opinions vary in some polls when people are asked whether there should be limits after a certain stage of pregnancy.

In one recent YouGov poll of 1,000 adult US citizens, 53% of Americans strongly and somewhat supported a national ban on abortion after 16 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening circumstances, which Trump has said he supports.

Those respondents consisted of 52% of men saying they strongly or somewhat supported the 16-week national ban and 54% of women saying they strongly supported or somewhat supported the same ban.

"As President Trump has stated, he would sit down with both sides and negotiate a deal that everyone will be happy with. President Trump appointed strong Constitutionalist federal judges and Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the decision back to the states, which others have tried to do for over 50 years," Karoline Leavitt, a Trump spokesperson, wrote in a statement to BI, adding the accusation that Biden and Democrats were too "radical" on their stances around abortion.

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