In an interview published by RealClearPolitics on Thursday, Ivanka Trump revealed that she “unapologetically” opposes abortion rights. “I respect all sides of a very personal and sensitive discussion,” she said, while aligning herself with a movement that seeks to ban women from making very personal decisions for themselves. “But I am also a mother of three children, and parenthood affected me in a profound way in terms of how I think about these things.”
Ivanka’s anti-abortion stance, which she hadn’t yet spoken of during her time in the White House, tracks with much of her previous rhetoric on a woman’s place in the world. “The most important job any woman can have is being a mother,” she said in a 2016 campaign ad for her father that was supposed to promote his policies for working women. When Cosmopolitan pressed her on the fact that her parental leave plan, which offered nothing to fathers or mothers who didn’t physically give birth, stood to further entrench women’s disproportionate share of parenting responsibilities, she lost her usual composure and snapped at the journalist interviewing her. Former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, tried to bribe the organization into halting its abortion care, by promising to secure more funding for it if it eliminated abortion services—a deal that would have been a major victory for Donald Trump, whom anti-abortion groups have called the “most pro-life president ever.”
But in other ways, Ivanka Trump’s newly vocal commitment to the anti-abortion cause is a departure from the way she’s presented herself since her father’s 2015 campaign. Ivanka has consistently sought to portray herself as a moderating force in her dad’s administration, a poised and culture war–averse influence to balance out the far-right ideologues on staff. She once told the New York Times that she wanted to sand down the edges of her father’s worst policies, especially those on climate policy and immigration. And she never talked about abortion. She seemed to want her presence to soothe voters—particularly women who were a bit turned off by Donald Trump’s demeanor and extremism but were looking for reasons to feel OK about supporting him anyway.
Over the course of the Trump administration, it has become ever clearer that Ivanka’s supposed influence isn’t worth a dime. If Ivanka Trump has had any success in her alleged mission to make her dad’s presidency less catastrophic, it’s entirely invisible. If kidnapping migrant children from their parents with no plan to reunite them was the Ivanka-moderated policy, what was the original? Ivanka claimed to be an LGBTQ ally, but never uttered a peep when her father barred transgender Americans from serving in the military. Donald Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, opened up protected lands to fossil fuel pillagers, and is reversing almost 100 environmental regulations. From where did Ivanka pull him back? This administration’s total lack of federal response to the COVID-19 crisis has forced hundreds of thousands of women, many of them mothers, out of the workforce. Where is the author of Women Who Work?
Now, Ivanka has realized that no one’s buying her moderating-force act. So, like the rest of the Trump campaign, Ivanka is pivoting to riling up the base rather than attempting to win over those in the middle. Aware that women have fled from his side with haste, the president is making his rallies more sexist than ever in an attempt to energize his sexist supporters. Likewise, Ivanka is adjusting her image to better align with Trump fans who support him unconditionally. They’re the only people left to please: Donald Trump has already revealed himself to be the cruel, wannabe-authoritarian president he promised he’d be. Four years in, there are no Americans whose concerns about a Donald Trump presidency could be assuaged by a seemingly intelligent daughter-adviser with a women’s empowerment shtick. She seems to have realized that she might as well give up that act and try out a new one.