Massachusetts Anti-Abortion Activists Say They Won’t Vote For Trump In November
Anti-abortion activists in Massachusetts face a terrible conundrum this November. When they vote for president, it is likely that they will have to pick between two pro-abortion rights candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Locally-oriented activists generally don’t spend too much time working on national campaigns, but this being the Year of Trump, they sound as if they’re looking to check out of the national fight all together.
Activists interviewed by Boston over the weekend at the annual Massachusetts Citizens For Life conference expressed deep frustration with Trump’s rise as the Republican Party nominee.
Nearly all of the activists interviewed said they would not vote for Trump in November, particularly in light of comments he made last week when he said he would like to punish women who have abortions. Trump later walked back his comments in a campaign statement. In later comments, he stated he thinks the abortion laws in the United States are fine and should remain as is. For those of you keeping score at home, Trump’s position on abortion went from being to the far right of the pro-life movement to supporting abortion rights in the span of 24 hours.
Their negative feelings for Trump mirror the sentiment held by national conservatives who care deeply about the abortion issue. On Monday, the Weekly Standard ran a strongly worded editorial from author Joseph Bottum that echoed much of what they had to say over the weekend:
If you are pro-life, you cannot vote for Donald Trump. The point is simple and unavoidable: If the man is not a covert supporter of legalized abortion, he has at least thought about the issue so rarely and so incompletely that he cannot articulate a coherent sentence about it. Forget walking the walk. Donald Trump cannot even talk the talk.
“He’s clueless about the right-to-life position,” said Ellen Kolb, 56, a longtime anti-abortion activist.
For anti-abortion activists like Kolb, the big concern for them is not just positions Trump holds personally, but the views of the judges he will appoint to federal courts. It’s safe to say, she’s not really optimistic about who he will pick to sit on the bench.
“If it comes down to Trump vs Hillary, frankly, there’s not going to be any difference in Supreme Court appointments, but instead of staying home we need to pay attention to down ballot races,” said Kolb.
Races for state legislative seats are important for activists like Kolb, because it’s where many of them believe they can have the most influence on the abortion issue. State legislatures around the country have passed several wide-ranging restrictions on abortion since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 and represent the real strength of the anti-abortion movement.
“I don’t think Donald Trump is sincere about anything. He does not represent the pro-life movement at all,” said Isabelle Geromino of Foxborough.
Geromino of Foxborough, who will be voting in her first election this fall, said she will have a very hard time with Trump as the nominee and would prefer to see Kasich as the party’s standard barer this fall because he can beat Clinton in a general election. “Hillary Clinton is extremely pro-choice and for very few restrictions on abortion,” said Geromino.
Chicopee resident Peggy Bradford originally backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the Republican primary because she liked what he had to say and thought he could win in November. When Rubio dropped out, she shifted her support to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz because she finds Trump totally unelectable.
“I think Trump is a total idiot. I have never seen someone in my life who works with no information at all and says the things he says,” said Bradford.
While everyone Boston talked with was quick to torch Trump as a phony social conservative, some were slightly receptive to voting for him against Clinton. In the anti-abortion activism world, Clinton is for everything they are against.
“I think Trump would be the lesser of two evils, because Hillary would be a disaster. I don’t agree with a lot of what Trump has to say, but I do agree with him on some issues,” said Edward Nazzo of Revere, a former Santorum supporter who is now backing Kasich.
Still, Nazzo was not in anyway bullish about Trump on the issues he holds near and dear.
“I really couldn’t tell you what he thinks or how sincere he is. We won’t really know that until he gets into office,” said Nazzo.
Many at the convention said they think a brokered convention in July will relieve them from being in the undesirable position of having to pick between Trump and Clinton in November.
“Hey, that’s what we’re all hoping for right?” said David Franks, a professor at John’s Seminary in Boston.