US POLITICS

Donald Trump Wants To Punish Women For Having Abortions

He made his comments during an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC

US POLITICS
Donald Trump. — REUTERS
Mar 30, 2016 at 5:16 PM ET

Donald Trump took his recently acquired pro-life stance to a whole new level on Wednesday, saying that abortions should be criminalized—though he declined to provide specifics on what type of penalty women who get the constitutionally protected procedure should face.

“There has to be some sort of punishment” for women who get abortions, Trump said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. When Matthews asked Trump if the punishment should be for “10 days or 10 years,” Trump said he didn’t know, adding “I do take positions on everything else but this is a very complicated position.”

This hardened position was instantly condemned by pro-choice advocates. “Donald Trump is possibly the most dangerous man Republicans could pick to lead their crusade against women’s access to abortion. He clearly doesn’t see us as people or care at all about our safety or health,” Jess McIntosh, VP of communications for Emily’s List, a PAC that supports Democratic women, told us. “I’d love to say he’s an outlier, but he’s honestly just giving voice to the awful and dehumanizing policies the GOP has been pushing for decades.”

The criticism didn’t just come from Democrats. Trump’s GOP rival and noted abortion opponent John Kasich said that women should “absolutely not” be punished. “You know, I think probably Donald Trump will figure out a way to say that he didn’t say it or that he was misquoted or whatever, but I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s an appropriate response, and it’s a difficult enough situation…”

Trump’s new position completes his total 180 on abortion rights. In 1999, in an interview with the late Tim Russert, Trump affirmed that he is “very pro-choice” and said he would not outlaw partial birth abortion if president. Later, in his book “The America We Deserve,” Trump partially recanted his statements to Russert, saying that after consulting two doctors after that interview, “I have concluded that I would indeed support a ban [on partial birth abortions].”

In 2011, Trump began touting a pro-life agenda to conservatives while courting a possible presidential run. During that year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump declared that he is both “pro-life” and “against gun control.”

Trump’s newfound ideology could potentially signal a harsher stance than the U.S. has ever taken on abortion. In her 1997 book “When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973,” Professor Leslie Reagan acknowledged that while women were sometimes prosecuted for having abortions rom the late 19th century to the 1930s, social punishment was often the penalty of choice used against working-class women, while abortion providers were the ones usually targeted.

Writing on Chicago’s abortion investigations, Reagan said, “The state did not punish women for having abortions, but did punish women through persistent questioning by doctors and police and through public exposure of their abortions. The harassment of sick or dying women in the name of criminal investigation continued until the decriminalization of abortion.”

As expected, Trump’s campaign began doing damage control shortly after the remarks were made on Wednesday. In a statement, Trump said, “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.”