In a passage from her new memoir that caught widespread attention this week, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards accused Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner of offering her what felt like a "bribe" in exchange for federal funding. Richards wrote in her memoir, Making Trouble, that Ivanka and Kushner told Planned Parenthood to stop providing abortions if it wanted to maintain its federal funding. But when it comes to her personal opinions, what is Ivanka Trump's stance on abortion?
Critics have routinely slammed the first daughter for speaking out about women's rights while playing an active role in an administration that seemingly seeks to roll them back. But on the subject of abortion, Ivanka's position has been murky at best — largely because she has remained noticeably silent whenever her father's administration tries to restrict abortion access. For example, when the president signed a global gag rule withholding funding from international groups that provide abortions, Ivanka made no visible attempts to push back.
When her father first took office, liberals wondered whether Ivanka would be their ally on women's rights — on issues like equal pay, paid parental leave, and abortion. But in the little over a year that Trump has been in office, Ivanka has attempted to make her father's administration seem more palatable without actually having any concrete impact on policies pertaining to women's rights.
And before her father even took office, Trump explicitly refused to express her personal views on abortion, saying that they weren't pertinent.
“I don’t express my views on policy, with one exception as it relates to child care and advocating for women,” she said at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in October 2016. It seems that Trump doesn't perceive discussions about abortion as an important part of advocating for women, even though reproductive health care access is an issue that women's rights advocates like Richards have long been outspoken about.
Nonetheless, Trump has previously tried to defend her apparent silence on the issue, arguing that she does not always blindly agree with her father.
“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” she told CBS News' Gayle King last year. “Where I disagree with my father, he knows it. And I express myself with total candor.”
Perhaps Trump is right to say that her personal stance on abortion is not important, but if that is the case, then she shouldn't position herself as the women's rights champion of the current administration. In some ways, her actions speak for themselves — she and her husband may have attempted to "bribe" Planned Parenthood solely to "deliver a political win" as Richards suggested in her memoir, but the result is the same. They tried to get a reproductive health care organization to stop providing abortions.
This alleged exchange with Richards is also not the only way in which Trump and the Planned Parenthood head clashed on the subject of abortion during their 2017 meeting. Trump's goal for her meeting with Richards was to "seek common ground on the contentious issue of abortion." But during the meeting, Trump reportedly suggested to Richards that Planned Parenthood be divided in two: One large primary branch dedicated to women's health services and a smaller branch providing abortions.
Given this exchange, one thing about Trump's abortion view seems to be clear: In terms of policy, at least, she appears that abortion access is not relevant to women's health or women's rights. She may not want to explicitly indicate whether or not she is pro-choice, but she may not even have to. By insinuating that abortions are not an important of women's health care access — and as a person who is deeply involved in the current administration — she is making it harder for pregnant people to have a choice.