Donald Trump’s abortion statements on Wednesday, in which he said there must be punishment for a woman who procures an abortion, have had far-reaching implications for the politician. Not only have pro-choice groups spoken against the idea, but pro-life groups have spoken to denounce the sentiment as well. Now, though, one organization that exists to promote Christian rights says that punishment for abortion could be a future goal.
Donald Trump has been lambasted by liberals and conservatives, pro-lifers and pro-choicers, evangelicals and medical professionals, not only for his declaration that women should face a punishment for procuring an abortion, but for the series of position changes that followed.
Politifact has a full transcript of Trump’s interview at the MSNBC Town Hall on Wednesday. A portion is reproduced below.
[MSNBC’s Chris] MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman.
TRUMP: Yeah, there has to be some form.
Trump went on to say that he did not know what that punishment might be.
Later the same day, a statement on Trump’s campaign website assured voters that he would never support a punishment for a woman who sought an abortion, that the hypothetical woman was a victim, and that his position on this had never changed.
“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.”
March For Life was among the pro-life organizations to disavow Trump’s response, sharing a statement from the organization’s president, Jeanna Mancini.
“Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision. 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. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”
However, one pro-life organization is, at least, willing to consider the idea at some point in the future. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association spoke about Donald Trump on Thursday.
He said that the comment, and the subsequent change of position, demonstrated that Trump didn’t really have a firm position on the matter, and was willing to give whatever answer he thought was wanted. He also declared that Trump was wrong, and echoed Mancini’s position above: that pro-life organizations see the individual seeking an abortion as a victim, and do not seek to punish her.
However, he quickly tempered that position when a caller expressed support for the idea of sanctions for abortion-seekers.
The full video posted by the AFA is here, and you can jump to 6:35 to hear the call. The caller speaks of the analogy of an abortion provider as a “hired assassin” and says that typically we do punish a person for hiring an assassin.
Right Wing Watch captured a video of Fischer’s response, which you can see below.
Right now, Fischer maintains it’s not realistic to punish women for abortions because the current culture doesn’t foster an understanding that a fetus is a living baby, but at some point in the future, punishing women could be feasible.
“We may be able to get to the point, if everybody comes to understand — here’s the issue. We need to get the culture to the place where everybody understands that it’s a baby, and if we can do that, if we can get a cultural consensus that that is a baby in the womb, then I think at that point, you can begin to talk about legal consequences for the mothers.”
A second caller expressed a similar stance but accepted that it was okay as a “temporary measure” to consider women victims rather than offenders, and Fischer doubled down. At the 11:25 mark, he begins to respond.
“I realize from a purer standpoint there should be legal culpability for a woman. Maybe someday we can get to that place, where that would be accepted.”
While pro-life groups were quick to disavow Donald Trump’s declaration that abortion should carry punishments for the individual who obtains one, this marks at least one group stating that it could be a future possibility, and with followers who say they’d support such a move.
[Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images]