Trump toughens anti-abortion stance
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Donald Trump has recruited the influential anti-abortion leader Marjorie Dannenfelser to lead his campaign’s national “Pro-Life Coalition.”

Not only that, but Trump has made a new policy promise that strengthens his anti-abortion position.

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In a letter to anti-abortion leaders inviting them to join his coalition, Trump commits to a new policy: “Making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.”

It’s unusual for a Republican presidential nominee to move further to the right on abortion this late in an election cycle. And the move is a direct shot at Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV Keeping up with Michael Avenatti MORE, whose party wrote into its platform that it would repeal the Hyde Amendment. Until this summer, the Democratic platform did not include this plank.

A longstanding policy, the Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients except in cases of rape, incest or when pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.  

Trump’s commitment to making Hyde permanent law is new, though his running mate, Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceIndiana sisters with history of opposing Pence donate millions to Dems Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law Overnight Defense: Trump marks 9/11 anniversary | Mattis says Assad 'has been warned' on chemical weapons | US identifies first remains of returned Korean war troops MOREbrought up the policy at an evangelical conference over the weekend.

In the letter, released by Dannenfelser's Susan B. Anthony List, Trump also endorses the anti-abortion movement’s two biggest legislative priorities: defunding Planned Parenthood and passing a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

The late-term abortion ban, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, has long been one of Dannenfelser’s top priorities. Support for the bill has been the key litmus test for GOP candidates seeking endorsements from the Susan B. Anthony List for several election seasons.

The House approved the bill this year, though the initial vote had been abruptly cancelled after some Republicans voiced concerns about a restriction on abortion for rape victims who haven’t reported the crime to the police.

Legal experts have raised questions about whether a national 20-week ban would stand up in court, but Republicans say it is part of their long game to force the issue to reverse the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

Trump also committed to defunding Planned Parenthood, legalizing the actions of several GOP-led states over the last year. Most of those state actions have been blocked in courts.

Trump additionally doubled down on his promise to appoint “pro-life” justices to the Supreme Court.

“Hillary Clinton’s unwavering commitment to advancing taxpayer-funded abortion on-demand stands in stark contrast to the commitments I’ve made,” Trump writes, “to advance the rights of unborn children and their mothers when elected president.”

Leaders of the anti-abortion movement were hardly quick to embrace Trump, who told an interviewer in 1999 that he supported partial-birth abortion.

But as the prospect of Clinton — a career-long advocate for abortion rights — becoming president came into focus, many anti-abortion activists sided with Trump.  

Still, Trump tested their patience when he said that women should be punished for abortions if the procedure were made illegal.

Those remarks in April, which he later walked back, ignored decades of conservative doctrine on abortion, which some leaders of the movement said proved that Trump was out-of-touch with their beliefs. He arranged meetings with anti-abortion leaders, including Dannenfelser, shortly after facing the backlash.

And selecting Pence as his running mate, a trusted ally of Dannenfelser and other leaders, helped Trump immeasurably with the anti-abortion movement. 

Co-chairs of the Pro-life Coalition will be announced later this month, according to SBA List’s statement. Coalition members will be asked to write op-eds, speak on Trump’s behalf on television and at public events, and recruit volunteers.

“Not only has Mr. Trump doubled down on his three existing commitments to the pro-life movement, he has gone a step further in pledging to protect the Hyde Amendment and the conscience rights of millions of pro-life taxpayers,” Dannenfelser said.

“For a candidate to make additional commitments during a general election is almost unheard of.”