During the taping of an MSNBC town hall event in Wisconsin Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said women who receive abortions should be subject to “some form of punishment” if the procedure became illegal.
Everyone, from Democrats to Republicans, and pro-life advocates to pro-choice advocates, has sounded off on Mr. Trump’s comments.
There isn’t data on how Americans feel about women being punished for having abortion procedures. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 19 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and 29 percent believe it should be legal under any circumstances. The majority – 51 percent of Americans – believes that abortion should be legal, but only under certain circumstances.
And while only 28 percent of all Republicans say abortion should be legal in “all or most cases,” the number is 55 percent for moderate Republicans, according to a September 2015 Pew Research poll. A Gallup poll suggests that the socially and economically conservative wing of the party is at its lowest level since 2005.
The Republican National Committee has already noted that the party has a “women problem.”
“Our inability to win their votes is losing us elections,” the RNC wrote after women favored President Obama by 11 points over GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
Trump is poised to do even worse than Romney with women in the general election. According to recent polls, his negative ratings are more than 70 percent among women. Since July 2015, both Republican women and all US women collectively have viewed Trump far more unfavorably than their male counterparts.
The criticism of Trump has been widespread, not only from abortion-rights activists, but even antiabortion groups.
“Mr. Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said in a press release. “Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby… 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.”
Trump’s Democratic opponents were quick to respond:
And from Ted Cruz’s Rapid Response Director:
“Of course women shouldn’t be punished,” added fellow Republican presidential candidate John Kasich. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate response. It’s a difficult enough situation.”
Trump issued a statement several hours after his shocking assertion, changing his position while saying his position has not changed.
If abortion became illegal, “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the women,” 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.”