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Washington Roundup: Pro-life group pushes Trump on 15-week abortion ban, centrist group drops third-party ticket

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., April 2, 2024. (OSV News photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — A prominent pro-life group pushed former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, to back federal legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The same week in Washington, President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “unacceptable,” and said Israel must take concrete steps to address the matter. A centrist group dropped its effort to recruit a third-party presidential candidate. The White House also said Biden was briefed on an April 5 earthquake in New Jersey that could be felt in states throughout the Northeast.

SBA calls on Trump to back 15-week federal abortion restriction

After the Florida Supreme Court April 1 simultaneously ruled that the state’s Constitution does not protect abortion access but also allowed a proposed amendment seeking to do so to qualify for the state’s November ballot, Trump said at a campaign stop that “we will be making a statement next week on abortion.”

But Trump’s campaign was mum on further details, and while in office, Trump would often make and miss similar self-imposed deadlines.

Trump has been evasive on the issue of abortion amid his third bid for the White House. He previously blamed the issue of abortion and pro-life voters for the Republican Party’s underperformance in the 2022 midterm election cycle, prompting criticism from even some of his supporters. Analysts, by contrast, blamed in part quality issues with Republican campaigns in that cycle and Trump’s repeated, unproven claims of a stolen 2020 election for the party’s underperformance.

But Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, issued a statement arguing Trump “has consistently advocated for protecting babies from painful late-term abortions.”

“Beginning in his first administration, he consistently argued for a consensus federal minimum standard,” she said. “Seven in 10 Americans agree that there should be limits on painful second- and third-trimester abortions. Forty-seven out of 50 European nations also have limits on abortion by the point when babies can feel excruciating pain.”

Dannenfelser said that meanwhile, “President Biden’s Democratic Party has abandoned ‘safe, legal and rare’ and now stands for abortion on demand any time for any reason, paid for by taxpayers — no compassion, no common sense and no exceptions.”

“While most women who’ve had abortions wish they’d had more help to keep their babies, the Biden administration even wants to discriminate against pregnancy centers that serve moms throughout pregnancy and beyond,” she said. “But don’t expect the Democrats to level with voters. Instead they will spend millions to fearmonger and lie about the Republican position, denouncing any limits whatsoever on abortion as a ‘national ban,’ even while they refuse to tell the truth about their own radical stance.”

“President Trump’s advocacy and leadership led to the historic Dobbs decision and the pro-life movement’s greatest opportunity,” she continued. “As President Trump has acknowledged repeatedly, states now have the right restored to determine their own laws. Still, America has never been more in need of a National Defender of Life to rein in extremism of states like California. We have every hope and indication President Trump will argue for a 15-week minimum standard.”

Biden signals potential policy shift on Gaza without steps to address humanitarian crisis

Israel said it plans to adjust its tactics in the Gaza war after seven aid workers were killed April 1 in air strikes its military called a mistake. The slain aid workers were staff of World Central Kitchen, a nongovernmental organization that provides food relief. The slain workers included Australian, British, Polish and Palestinian nationals, as well as a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen.

A White House readout of Biden’s call with Netanyahu said the president “emphasized that the strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation are unacceptable.”

Biden, the readout said, “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers. He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

“He underscored that an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilize and improve the humanitarian situation and protect innocent civilians, and he urged the Prime Minister to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home,” it added. “The two leaders also discussed public Iranian threats against Israel and the Israeli people. President Biden made clear that the United States strongly supports Israel in the face of those threats.”

Pope Francis April 3 reacted to the death of the aid workers in a post on X, formerly Twitter, writing, “I reiterate my firm call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. I express my deep sorrow for the volunteers who were killed while distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza. I pray for them and their families.”

No Labels drops recruitment efforts for third-party presidential bid

No Labels, the centrist group that has sought to recruit candidates for a third-party presidential bid, will end its effort to “put forth a Unity ticket” in the 2024 presidential election, the group announced April 4, saying they did not garner enough interest in credible candidates.

“Americans remain more open to an independent presidential run, and hungrier for unifying national leadership, than ever before,” the group said in a statement. “But No Labels has always said we would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House. No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down.”

The group’s announcement comes after the death of its founding chair, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and after No Labels failed to convince those it saw as potential candidates — including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, each of whom unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is retiring from the Senate — to join their effort.

Most Americans don’t appear eager for a rematch election between Biden and Trump, according to recent polls, but strategists on both sides argued such an independent bid would hurt their respective candidates’ efforts to win another term in the White House.

No Labels, however, said it would “build on the momentum we have gained over the last year to continue representing unity and giving voice to America’s commonsense majority.”

“Like many Americans, we are concerned that the division and strife gripping the country will reach a critical point after this election, regardless of who wins,” the group said. “Post-election, No Labels will be prepared to champion and defend the values and interests of America’s commonsense majority. We will also bring our citizens and leaders together for a summit to discuss the path forward for our community and our nation. Suffice it to say that this movement is not done. In fact, it is just beginning.”

Biden briefed on earthquake

An April 5 earthquake centered near Lebanon, New Jersey — a town about 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia — had a preliminary magnitude of 4.8, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake could be felt in both of those metro areas and surrounding states. But officials said there did not appear to be any significant damage.

The White House press office said Biden “has been briefed on the earthquake … and he is in touch with his team who are monitoring potential impacts. The White House is in touch with federal, state, and local officials as we learn more.”

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @kgscanlon.

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