Donald Trump has defended his outrageous assertion that women should be punished for having abortions.
The controversial GOP front-runner unleashed a political storm last week when pressed by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on whether he would support reprimanding women for undergoing the medical procedure, should abortion ever be outlawed.
A visibly flustered Trump told Matthews that he believed women should face “some form of punishment”.
His campaign immediately flip-flopped on the statement and frantically issued two press statements clarifying that Trump would not support punishing women for undergoing an abortion. Instead, a prospective President Trump would simply reprimand medical practitioners willing to perform the procedure.
Yet, appearing on Fox News on Monday night, Trump appeared to recant on his policy reversal.
“That was a hypothetical question. That was not a wrong answer,” Trump told host Sean Hannity. “There were other people that wrote me letters by the hundreds saying that was a great answer to that question the way it was raised.”
Trump then went on to lambast Chris Matthews for asking about abortion in the first place and insinuated he only appeared on the program as a favor to MSNBC.
“You know, I’m pro-life, OK, with the exceptions, but I am pro-life,” he said. “I did the show because it’s not a high-rated show. He’s always been — I mean, he has never treated me very badly. And I didn’t think it was a big thing to do the show, and as a hypothetical question you give a hypothetical answer, and I didn’t see the big, big, huge deal.”
Despite the apparent extremity of Trump’s current stance against abortion, the Republican presidential hopeful wasn’t always pro-life.
In 1999, Trump famously told NBC host Tim Russert he was “pro-choice in every respect” and would not seek to ban the procedure if he were ever elected to office. Yet, after announcing his intention to run for the White House last summer, Trump began telling supporters that he was now firmly pro-life.
That major policy shift hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Critics from all sides of the political spectrum have recently butted heads with Trump numerous times over his true stance on abortion.
Appearing on CBS News Sunday Morning, Trump told host John Dickerson he did not support overturning existing abortion laws despite his campaign issuing a statement later saying that he did plan to change legislation relating to abortion if he were to be elected president.
That same day, Trump attempted to clarify his muddled position at a Fox News town hall event in Milwaukee.
“Look, I’m pro-life. Uh, Ronald Reagan was pro-life, with the exceptions, OK? That was Ronald Reagan. And that’s been me,” he told host Greta Van Susteren. “And it’s been me for quite a period of time.”
He also said that “so many people on Twitter” had defended his controversial statements and added he only issued a clarification in case people “didn’t understand” his point.
“I took that answer, and I didn’t like it because I think a lot of people didn’t understand it,” he said. “Women go through a lot. They go through a tremendous punishment of themselves. And I didn’t like it because I wasn’t sure if people would understand it. So I clarified it. But it was just a clarification, and I think it was well accepted.”
Although Trump is still polling ahead of his GOP rivals, the reality TV star’s lead has faltered in the past week. According to RealClearPolitics, Trump now sits just 7.6 points on top of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has worked hard to capitalize on Trump’s controversial abortion statements, is sitting in third place with 20.6 percent of the vote.
[Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images]