Abortion and Donald Trump: Not a good mix. Trump has double-talked on his views on abortion, once again amending his statements after receiving instant, bipartisan criticism for his aggressive stance that the GOP candidate postured with earlier in the week. After the pro-choice Trump said that women seeking abortions should be punished if the procedure is banned, the Republican frontrunner backtracked Friday, saying that abortion laws should remain as they are.
On April 1, Trump sat down with John Dickerson from “Face the Nation,” attempting to clarify his explosive comments from earlier in the week. In a video excerpt of the interview, Trump said, “At this moment the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”
When Dickerson pushed Donald about identifying as “pro-life” and whether he believes abortion is murder, Trump hesitated and said, “I have my opinions on it, but I’d rather not comment on it,” saying it was an “inappropriate forum” to do so. Later, he said he does not disagree with the pro-life position that abortion is murder.
On Wednesday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews pressed Trump on his views over women’s reproductive rights, urging the pro-life candidate to explain what legal ramifications he believes a woman should face if she has an abortion. The mad scramble began, as the video above shows, when Trump said women should endure “some form of punishment.”
Matthews seized on that statement – after putting Trump in an arduous position with his questions – demanding that Trump say what the punishment should be. When Trump said he didn’t know, a feisty Matthews said, “Why not? You take positions on everything else.” After the two sparred on the political and criminal implications of a ban on abortion versus the “moral” position of the Catholic Church, Trump did reveal that he believes men should not be punished.
The backlash came fast – and from all over. Dawn Laguens from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund said Trump’s comments were “flat-out dangerous.” On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders used the word “shameful” in a tweet, while Hillary Clinton called the comments “horrific and telling.”
In Trump’s own party, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, who are both pro-life as well, condemned Trump. Cruz said said the billionaire “demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues.” While Kasich said, “Of course women shouldn’t be punished. I don’t think that’s an appropriate response.”
Later that day, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued a statement, trying to mop up the mess, quoting Trump as saying: “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.”
But the denunciation continued to roll in, and later that day – after undoubtedly losing scores of women voters and after getting slapped upside his head by females on his campaign staff – Trump did a complete about-face, saying the woman would not be held responsible.
“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,” Trump said in a statement. “The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”
Adds the NY Times: “A New York Times/CBS News poll this month had already demonstrated Mr. Trump’s weakness with female voters, who favored the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, 55 percent to 35 percent.”
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