Donald Trump, during a taping of an MSNBC town hall, was asked by Chris Matthews about his position on abortion where Trump indicated he was in favor of some sort of punishment for women who get abortions.
At a taping of an MSNBC town hall to be aired Wednesday evening, host Chris Matthews pressed Trump on his anti-abortion position, repeatedly asking him whether abortion should be punished if it is outlawed. “This is not something you can dodge.”
“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’” Trump answered.
“How about you?” Matthews asked.
“I would say it’s a very serious problem and it’s a problem we have to decide on. Are you going to send them to jail?” Trump said.
“I’m asking you,” Matthews said.
“I am pro-life,” Trump said. Asked how a ban would actually work, Trump said, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places but we have to ban it,” Trump said.
Matthews then pressed Trump on whether he believes there should be punishment for abortion if it were illegal
“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yeah,” Trump said, nodding.
Trump said the punishment would “have to be determined.”
Watch the exchange below:
Abortion advocates naturally flipped out. Pro-life activists also distanced themselves from Trump’s answer. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser pointed out they have never advocated for women to be punished.
Mattie Brinkerhoff, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, said that when a woman undergoes an abortion it is evidence she has been ‘greatly wronged.’ The Revolution, the newspaper owned and operated by Susan B. Anthony published an op-ed asserting that, on abortion, “thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.’ Alice Paul was known to have called abortion ‘the ultimate exploitation of women.’
We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion.
As a convert to the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump sees the reality of the horror of abortion – the destruction of an innocent human life – which is legal in our country up until the moment of birth. But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.
Carol Tobias at National Right to Life says that abortionists, not women need to be punished.
The National Right to Life Committee unequivocally opposes the killing of innocent unborn children and works unceasingly to have them protected in law. Unborn children and their mothers are victims in an abortion. In adopting statutes prohibiting the performance of abortions, National Right to Life has long opposed the imposition of penalties on the woman on whom an abortion is attempted or performed. Rather, penalties should be imposed against any abortionist who would take the life of an unborn child in defiance of statutes prohibiting abortions. National Right to Life-backed state and federal legislation, such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, is targeted at stopping abortionists.
Trump’s campaign “clarified” their position in a released statement the same day.
If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed – like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who currently leads Donald Trump in Wisconsin also responded:
Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues, and he’ll say anything just to get attention. On the important issue of the sanctity of life, what’s far too often neglected is that being pro-life is not simply about the unborn child; it’s also about the mother — and creating a culture that respects her and embraces life. Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.
There are pro-lifers who do believe that women, in some circumstances, should have some disincentive or consequence if they seek an abortion. Frankly that position is politically and legislatively untenable which is why most pro-life groups focus on the abortionists who are paid. Taking this position isn’t exactly going to help Trump’s favorability among women. Also ask the simple question of who actually kills the child? It is the abortionist, not the mother (unless it is self-induced) this isn’t that hard.
I have seen numerous politicians tripped up on this issue. Frankly the focus should be first on getting the procedure outlawed. Discussing consequences is putting the cart before the horse. It is a question that every candidate should be prepared for, but it is quite evident that Trump was not prepared.
It’s another sign that he has not thought through issues that conservatives care about. Also the statement, “my position has not changed” is patently untrue. His position was pro-abortion until he decided he was pro-life right before running for President. Then today he flip flopped on whether or not there should be consequences for mothers who get abortions. Are we supposed to just ignore what he said?
Trump has stated that he is in favor of abortion exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. His position on rape and incest exceptions do not jive with pro-life groups. It doesn’t match what Ronald Reagan supported either. Reagan supported a Human Life Amendment that banned all abortions with the exception of the life of the mother. He didn’t support rape and incest exceptions.
Should Donald Trump win the nomination and win the presidency I do hope that he will be a truly pro-life President. Wishy washy answers like what he gave today and his praise of Planned Parenthood don’t give me much hope.