In a televised interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said that for women who would ignore a theoretical ban on abortion there would have to be "some form of punishment, yeah."
"Perhaps burning at the stake?" —Rewire
Speaking with Chris Matthews, who pressed the candidate on how he would enforce a nationwide ban on abortion, Trump said, "I'm pro-life, yes" and "[abortion] is a big problem." Asked by Matthews to explain how it would be done, Trump continued, "You could go back to a position like they had where people will, perhaps, go to illegal places — but you have to ban it."
The full town-hall style forum will air Wednesday evening on MSNBC.
Though reports indicated his chief Republican rival Ted Cruz responded by questioning Trump's claim that he is an authentic "pro-life" candidate, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton slammed Trump's remarks.
Your Republican frontrunner, ladies and gentlemen. Shameful. https://t.co/y49Z8YfRgV
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 30, 2016
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse. Horrific and telling. -H https://t.co/Qi8TutsOw9
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 30, 2016
Though perhaps not surprised, given his record of misogyny and hateful rhetoric, reproductive and women's rights advocates were not about to let Trump's latest comments go without response:
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) March 30, 2016
If Trump's words about women--calling us "disgusting", "slobs" and "fat pigs"--didn't scare us, this should. https://t.co/TCL0DybDGY
— Kate Black (@KateBlackDC) March 30, 2016
Perhaps burning at the stake? https://t.co/KCprzsjeG1
— Rewire (@Rewire_News) March 30, 2016
In a statement to Politico, Marge Baker, executive director of the People for the American Way, described Trump's comment about women as an "absolutely abhorrent" position to take.
"Criminalizing abortion would endanger the lives of women — it’s ... unthinkable, and shows just how much is at stake in the November elections," Baker stated. "The fact of the matter, though, is that all of the Republican presidential candidates would like to criminalize abortion — Trump is no outlier on this.”
Following the fierce backlash against what he said during his interview with Matthews, the Trump campaign attempted a (rare) walk-back of the comments by releasing a clarifying statement about his position on abortion.
"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," Trump stated, "the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. 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."