Donald Trump Backpedals After Saying Women Should Be Punished for Having Abortions

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GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Campaigns Near Green Bay, WisconsinLast night in an appearance at a town hall event on MSNBC, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump actually managed to horrify even other anti-abortion politicians by saying that he thought abortion should be illegal, and that if abortion were illegal then women who had abortions should be punished. He did not specify how the 1/3 of American women who are estimated to have had abortions should be punished, but he said that if abortion were illegal, “some form of punishment would be in order.”

That resulted in a pretty immediate outcry even from other anti-abortion types, because according to The Guardian the idea that women should be punished for having abortions is actually very unpopular among voters. Other candidates and anti-abortion activists are more likely to express a desire to see doctors punished for performing abortions, but to say that women should not be criminalized for getting them. Even Trump seemed pretty aware of that, because on the clip from MSNBC he kept trying to turn the question around to ask interviewer Chris Matthews what he thought and how he reconciled his pro-choice position with his Catholicism, and Matthews kept trying to reiterate that Trump was running for president and Matthews just wanted him to specify how he would make abortion illegal and what punishment he would apply for women who got them illegally. It’s a weird five minutes of television, to say the least.


Also worth noting is the part at the end where he says that he does not think the men who impregnate the women who get abortions should face consequences.

But later Trump issued a statement basically asserting that he was in line with the more popular pro-life approach, in spite of what was said in the interview:

“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,” the statement said.

Kasich and Cruz both stepped in to say that was their position all along.

It might be popular for anti-abortion politicians to say that women are victims and should not face consequences for getting abortions, but it should be noted that women have been prosecuted for just that before, even today. Even in America. Just last year, Indiana woman Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide after she sought medical treatment for a miscarriage and prosecutors argued that the miscarriage was caused by her having attempted to induce an abortion. A woman in Tennessee was also recently charged with attempted murder for attempting to induce an abortion.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)