Now that the presumptive presidential nominees are set for the two major political parties in America, attention has shifted to examining their respective health policy priorities and goals.

Unsurprisingly, reproductive health and the debate over access to abortion have remained a hot button topic.

In headline-making news, former president and Republican candidate Donald Trump waded headfirst into the abortion and in vitro fertilization (IVF) debates.

Trump on abortion: Leave it to the states

After previously suggesting he would support a 15- or 20-week federal ban on abortion, Trump appeared to change course. 

In a four-minute video this week posted to his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump said abortion laws should be left to the states.

“From a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both,” Trump said in the video. “Whatever they decide must be the law of the land — in this case, the law of the state.”

He added that fighting Roe v. Wade was “all about bringing the issue back to the states. It wasn’t about anything else.”

Trump noted that hardliner Republicans who have sought federal abortion restrictions as severe as a full ban could cost the party significant votes in the upcoming elections with swing voters and independents.

“When they got nowhere, they upped [the federal ban] to six weeks,” Trump said. “And they got nowhere again and they recently upped it to 15 weeks… Because they were getting absolutely nowhere with the Democrats and they never would. Because the Democrats will never give up on this issue.”

With polls showing that full abortion bans are generally unpopular among voters, Democrats were able to gain favor in the 2022 midterm elections after Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

The party appears set on emphasizing reproductive rights further in the presidential campaign. That leaves Republicans scrambling to find a strategy to counter them on the issue, according to recent reporting by Politico.

Just one day after Trump’s Truth Social comments, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the state could enforce an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions. The Civil War-era law delineates that doctors who perform abortions could face felonies and two to five years in prison.

When asked by reporters if the Arizona Supreme Court went too far in its ruling, Trump said, “Yeah, they did and I think it’ll be straightened out… I’m sure the governor and everybody else have got to bring it back into reason and that it will be taken care of.”

Trump’s comments this week left many anti-abortion advocates disappointed, including anti-abortion groups and Sen. Lindsey Graham. Former vice president Mike Pence called Trump’s stance a “slap in the face.”

Trump responded to the backlash on Truth Social, noting that “many good Republicans” lost elections because of the issue.

Meanwhile, Democrats issued statements pushing back on Trump’s comments, with Biden noting that despite Trump opposing a federal ban – he was still “responsible for creating the cruelty and the chaos that has enveloped America since the Dobbs decision.”

Trump suggests support of IVF amid controversy

In the same Truth Social video posted this week, Trump also claimed that he supported IVF in the wake of the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under state law.

That decision forced many fertility clinics to shut down or pause procedures, leaving many healthcare providers and patients in limbo.

Trump said he and the Republican Party want to make it easier for mothers and families to have babies, not harder, backing the availability of fertility treatments like IVF nationwide.

But some Democrats have argued that Trump and other Republicans’ claims to support IVF are simply lip service. 

Sen. Jack Reed, (D-R.I.), who co-sponsored a bill that seeks to protect IVF access — the Access to Family Building Act — noted in a February statement that fertility treatments are at “serious risk.”

“Trump Republicans are actively campaigning to take away Americans’ reproductive freedoms,” Reed said. “Some are trying to sweep the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling under the rug ahead of the 2024 midterms and paying lip service to IVF services now.”

Trump’s IVF comments echoed similar ones he made earlier this year following the Alabama ruling, in which he noted he strongly supports the availability of IVF.