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Donald Trump Says Women Who Have Abortions Should Be Punished

Donald Trump
Donald Trump expressed a controversial position on abortion Wednesday, then tried to take it back. (Reuters photo)

He said it, then he tried to unsay it.

During an interview with MSNBC, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump was asked about his pro-life views. His initial response sent a shockwave through the media, and resulted in a chorus of criticism.

Chris Matthews asked Trump if he thought women who have abortions should be punished, if an actual ban on abortions was accomplished. He added, "If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under the law."

"Are you going to say, well wait, are you going to say put them in jail?" Trump asked, for clarification. "Is that the punishment you're talking about?"

Matthews said that was his implication.

"My answer is that there has to be some form of punishment, yeah," Trump concluded. Pressed for what kind of punishment that should be, he said he didn't know, calling it a "complicated issue."

Throughout the discussion, Trump reiterated he is pro-life. If Roe v. Wade were somehow reversed, he added, that would mean "you'll go back to a position like they had where people will, perhaps, go to illegal places."

Still, he says he advocates for a ban.

The exchange was criticized by fellow Republicans and Democrats alike. And to further complicate the matter, his campaign issued a statement after the clip was aired that stated:

"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," he 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."

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