Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told MSNBC host Chris Matthews on March 30 that women should be punished for having an abortion, a position he would later walk back (video below).
Matthews asked Trump during a town hall if a woman should be punished for having abortion, if the now-legal medical procedure were to be banned under a Trump administration, notes RawStory.com.
“People in certain parts of the Republican Party, and conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, they should punished,'" Trump stated.
“How about you?” Matthews asked the candidate.
“I would say that it’s a very serious problem and it’s a problem that we have to decide on," Trump added. "Are you going to say, 'Put them in jail?'"
“No, I’m asking you,” Matthews said. "Because you say you want to ban it. What does that mean?"
“I am pro-life, yes,” Trump replied.
"How do you ban abortion, how do you actually do it?" Matthews asked.
“Well, you go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places, but you have to ban it,” Trump stated.
Trump went on to ask Matthews, who is Catholic, if he agrees with his church's position against abortion. Matthews said he did morally, but told Trump they were speaking about a legal position.
Matthews asked Trump: "Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?"
“The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said.
“For the woman?” Matthews pressed.
“Yeah, there has to be some form,” Trump confirmed, but he wouldn't say what the punishment would be.
Trump's statements upset some pro-life groups, and he later walked back his statements in an email to Bloomberg Politics: "This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination."
"Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times."
Trump issued a second statement later in the 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.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas slammed Trump in a written statement:
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.