Project 2025 shows Trump and GOP are "obsessed" with abortion and "controlling our bodies": expert

Planned Parenthood's Jenny Lawson told Salon that Republicans will pass a total abortion ban if they get the chance

Published June 27, 2024 10:47AM (EDT)

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally outside Schnecksville Fire Hall on April 13, 2024 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally outside Schnecksville Fire Hall on April 13, 2024 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

Since Supreme Court justices appointed by Donald Trump helped overturn Roe v. Wade, more than a dozen states have passed total bans on abortion — and twice that number have imposed other limits on reproductive freedom, according to the the Guttmacher Institute. The nine states left with no restrictions have seen an influx of patients crossing state lines for medical care: some 171,000 people in 2023.

If Trump wins in November, there could be nowhere for them to go, at least in the United States. That would mean more women dying: Research suggests maternal mortality would jump 24% if Republicans pass and Trump signs into law a national abortion ban. More children would die too: After Texas imposed its abortion ban, infant deaths increased by nearly 13%, according to a recent study.

Salon spoke with Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, about the stakes in November and how much worse things could get if Democrats do not retain control of the White House.

What is at stake if Donald Trump wins the 2024 election versus Joe Biden, specifically for abortion rights and reproductive health rights?

Donald Trump and other abortion opponents, the team he has around him, never planned to stop at overturning Roe v. Wade and their assault on reproductive rights is only just beginning. 

They're trying to unilaterally leverage every tool and every government agency to radically change our country and eliminate abortion access nationwide, oftentimes with no input or approval from Congress.

"When they are able to enact policy, they do the most extreme version. And we should expect that at the federal level as well."

So what Trump can do on his own and the folks who are building out his administration, they have named on day one their agenda includes restricting medication abortion, attempting to enforce outdated patriarchal the Comstock Act from 1873 and defund Planned Parenthood and reinstate the global global gap world. These are all things that Trump would do on day one, and that's just beginning.

What do you think the media is missing? Is there something that we don't really see coming, that maybe the Republican Party has planned, that we'll see come into play if Trump wins?

As Project 2025 makes clear, they are obsessed with controlling our bodies and interfering with personal medical decisions. And I think banning abortion is such a key part ... “Abortion” is mentioned 199 times throughout the whole document

This is one of their top priorities. I think what's really important is that they won't stop at laws they can pass through Congress. They won't stop at much. Everything's on the table, and they're going to use every tool at their disposal to ensure that abortion access is not available. 

Currently, one in three women do not have access to reproductive freedom because they live in states with bans. There's no state in the nation where they have done anything less than a six-week ban, if not a total ban. When they are able to enact policy, they do the most extreme version. And we should expect that at the federal level as well. That is the way they are governing. 

Earlier this year, Trump seemed to take a more moderate stance, saying that he wasn't going to support a federal ban on abortions, but he was really excited about the statewide bans. Where do you think he really stands?

The anti-abortion movement's ultimate goal is to ban abortion by any means necessary, and Trump's statements about letting states decide, all you have to do is look at the way states are deciding. Anti-abortion politicians ban abortion before you know you're pregnant, and they don't want you to show up in an emergency room to get care if you're a pregnant person and having a miscarriage. 

They want to take over the courts to end that kind of medical care for pregnant people. They're trying to shut down Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers via federal courts in Texas. And so for Trump to say, "Let the states decide," what he is saying is he would like to have a national abortion ban.

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The other day I read something like 58% of Republicans are actually in favor of legal access to abortions. I wanted to kind of run that by you and see if you had any thoughts on what the numbers really look like. 

Generally, across the nation, eight in 10 Americans agree that decisions about abortion should be left between a patient and the provider. Abortion access crosses party lines, it crosses age and gender lines. We see this in poll after poll after poll.

But when you ask the question about who should be making these very important decisions, about the shape and size and ability to have a family, people do not believe that politicians are ever more qualified than a physician and their patients.

How are the red-state bans impacting blue states?

The impact really can't be understated when you get rid of healthcare access to half the country and say that the remaining half has to accommodate. This has been a devastation to reproductive freedom in this country and that is kind of unquantifiable at this moment. People are trying to put data around this, but it is a moving target and as new laws come on the books, as more people need access to care, we're getting more data and learning more. 

The fundamental issue here is that you have a choice for president, and on one hand, you have Joe Biden, who is committed and asked Congress to deliver him a law to protect access in all 50 states to ensure that it does not matter where you live, that you can have access to full reproductive freedom and not have to fear the fact that you are pregnant and worry about the healthcare you're going to receive. 

"It's two polar opposites. If Trump wins, abortion access in this country will continue to be devastated."

On the other hand, you have Donald Trump and his folks who work in his administration, willfully misinterpreting a law from the 1800s that will and could try to ban abortion in every state. It's two polar opposites. If Trump wins, abortion access in this country will continue to be devastated, and it is so essential that Joe Biden returns to office.

If Biden were to win this year, what would you hope are the first few things he can kind of put in place to help kind of build back what we've lost in the last two years with Roe v. Wade being overturned?

Joe Biden has never wavered in his support of reproductive freedom. And as we look forward, one of the most key pieces is the Supreme Court. It is entirely possible that a few of them will retire and no longer serve other terms. What is really critical is that Joe Biden is able to nominate replacements for those justices which would then change the face of the court, and would potentially help us get back to a place where abortion access is protected, but that's the Supreme Court level. Also nominating justices to federal courts is really essential, and he's done tons of that already.

When I think about the Biden administration, and what they're going to do next, a lot relies on our ability to hold the Senate and flip the House. If we have both of those chambers that are dedicated to reproductive freedom, and we have the Biden administration in charge, there’s the possibility of passing a piece of legislation that protects access. 

Yes, that seems like the ultimate trifecta.

We need a trifecta to be able to accomplish that big goal.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

By Nandika Chatterjee

Nandika Chatterjee is a News Fellow at Salon. In 2022 she moved to New York after graduating from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she pursued a B.A. in Communication and a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently an M.A. in Journalism candidate at NYU, pursuing the Magazine and Digital Storytelling program, and was previously an Editorial Fellow at Adweek.

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