Amid controversy over US abortion laws, Donald Trump says he's 'pro-life' but favours exceptions for rape and incest

Washington DC: President Donald Trump on Saturday declared himself "strongly pro-life" but in favor of exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, after several US states passed tough new restrictions on abortions.

The US president spelled out his position on abortion, set to be a hot-button issue at next year's election, days after Alabama's governor signed the country's most restrictive law — enacting a near-total prohibition even in cases of rape and incest.

"As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly pro-life, with the three exceptions — rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother — the same position taken by Ronald Reagan," tweeted Trump.

 Amid controversy over US abortion laws, Donald Trump says hes pro-life but favours exceptions for rape and incest

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

Trump, a bombastic, twice-divorced billionaire, won over the evangelical vote during his 2016 campaign by promising to appoint anti-abortion justices at the Supreme Court.

He has since brought two conservative appointees to the highest court in the land — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — shifting the balance of the nine-person bench.

American evangelicals now have high hopes that the court will chip away at its historic 1973 US decision to legalise abortion.

In addition to Alabama, the Missouri legislature this week made abortions illegal from eight weeks of pregnancy.

Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa and North Dakota have enacted laws banning abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bans are expected to be blocked in court, but supporters plan to appeal such decisions until they reach the Supreme Court, in hopes this will lead to the long-sought conservative goal of overturning the abortion ruling, known as Roe versus Wade.

Roe versus Wade guarantees women's rights to abortion as long as the fetus is not viable — around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Trump has also called for a congressional ban on late-term abortions, as he seeks to expand on his conservative support ahead of his re-election bid.

"The Radical Left, with late term abortion (and worse), is imploding on this issue," he tweeted late Saturday. "We must stick together and Win for Life in 2020."

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Updated Date: May 19, 2019 13:00:54 IST