Pro-life and pro-choice groups alike sharply criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks Wednesday that women who have abortions should be “punished.”
“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump told Chris Matthews during the taping of an MSNBC town hall set to air Wednesday evening.
VIDEO: Full exchange of @realdonaldtrump's abortion punishment comments on @MSNBC https://t.co/03qXFmpdvm— Mashable News (@Mashable News)1459365254.0
The position that women should be punished for an abortion isn’t one held by any mainstream pro-life group and is unpopular among pro-life activists.
Even among pro-lifers, this is not a popular stance. (Fact that it hasn't been asked in 26 years says something...) https://t.co/UXoyffQv0o— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@Ariel Edwards-Levy)1459364897.0
Several major pro-life groups were quick to condemn Trump’s remarks.
Incredibly out of touch with pro-life movement and women in general https://t.co/btqhREQJ8W— Jeanne F. Mancini (@Jeanne F. Mancini)1459367674.0
No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about. #prolife— March for Life (@March for Life)1459368080.0
March for Life's statement on Trump's abortion punishment comment https://t.co/GCyjZ1vwdC— Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@Kaitlyn Schallhorn)1459369484.0
“No one in the pro-life movement wants to punish women who have abortions,” Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, told TheBlaze. “Women facing crisis pregnancies deserve compassion, love, understanding and tangible support, which is why pro-lifers are against abortion. Not only does abortion end a human life, it’s the very opposite of empowerment, love, and compassion for women. To suggest that women be punished for their decision is an inept and reckless statement and should be rescinded.”
“We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement.
“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,” Dannenfelser added.
Pro-choice groups also condemned Trump’s remarks.
Donald Trump just hit a new low. He says women who have an abortion shld have "some form of punishment." Our stmnt: https://t.co/byiZ8E43Ck— NARAL (@NARAL)1459368727.0
This from a man who wants to be president of the United States of America, in 2016. And he is dangerously close. https://t.co/JrA54bx8Ho— Cecile Richards (@Cecile Richards)1459363635.0
This. Is. Dangerous. https://t.co/3KBEQMVLVT— Dawn Laguens (@Dawn Laguens)1459363962.0
To be clear, @realDonaldTrump is now inciting violence against women for making a decision that's theirs to make. https://t.co/Yjwj7g5J4X— Planned Parenthood Action (@Planned Parenthood Action)1459364726.0
As if his sexism and misogyny weren't bad enough – now this. A Trump presidency would be truly terrifying for women. https://t.co/xibomr6asq— EMILY's List (@EMILY's List)1459366737.0
The two remaining Democratic presidential candidates and the chair of the Democratic National Committee weighed in as well.
“Just when you thought it couldn't get worse,” Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, tweeted.
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse. Horrific and telling. -H https://t.co/Qi8TutsOw9— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton)1459364433.0
Your Republican frontrunner, ladies and gentlemen. Shameful. https://t.co/y49Z8YfRgV— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1459365427.0
.@DWStweets: It will be Donald Trump and the Republican candidates who will be punished come November. https://t.co/Jxzp8B2MbA— Christina Freundlich (@Christina Freundlich)1459369149.0
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate, said that Trump’s remark wasn’t “appropriate.”
.@JohnKasich reacts to Trump's abortion comments: "Of course, women shouldn't be punished" for having an abortion https://t.co/bLyaNPVGoE— MSNBC (@MSNBC)1459365412.0
In a statement, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) said that "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," Cruz said. "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."
In a statement attempting to clarify his remarks, Trump said, “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,” he added.
Trump later released an additional statement in which he backed down from his earlier remarks.
"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. "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."
Trump’s assertion that he is pro-life differs from his previously held position. During a 1999 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump said that he is “pro-choice in every respect.”
This post has been updated.