Analysis

Pro-lifers leaders push back on Trump’s statement that women should be punished for abortions

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Since running for president, Donald Trump has claimed to be pro-life, something that some people don’t truly believe. He continually praises Planned Parenthood, and has ‘joked’ that his pro-abortion extremist sister would make a “terrific” Supreme Court justice. Previously, he supported partial-birth abortion. He claims to have “evolved” and changed his mind about abortion. But his latest comments on abortion have stunned people across the country, both pro-life and pro-abortion.

While being interviewed by Chris Matthews for an MSNBC townhall, Trump was asked if women seeking abortions should be “punished” should abortion become illegal. At first, Trump waffled on the question, saying, “Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should.'” The back-and-forth went on like that, with Trump avoiding the question, until this happened…

Matthews: Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or no?

Trump: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

Matthews: For the woman?

Trump: Yeah.

The outrage was swift and immediate. People of all political stripes immediately condemned his remarks, including the March for Life:

“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,” said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.

“Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby. 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.”

So loud was the opposition to what he said, that he recanted almost immediately. At first, he said that the issue was “unclear” and should go “back to the states for determination”; then he released a second statement saying that women were the victims in the situation and the abortion provider should be charged instead.

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Some pro-lifers pointed out that, with one offhand remark, Donald Trump may have undermined pro-life attempts to reach out to women seeking abortion, as well as post-abortive women, with love and understanding. For decades, the pro-life movement has been stalwart on the belief that abortionists, not the women getting abortions, should be prosecuted. Live Action president Lila Rose responded to Trump’s remarks as well:

The law must protect the lives of children in the womb.  The abortion industry should be shut down and any abortionist who commits abortions should be held accountable for his crimes against women and children.

As for the women who are facing crisis pregnancies, the focus should be on supporting them and their preborn children with pre- and post-natal care and adoption services.

 Pro-abortion activists have, for years, falsely insisted that pro-lifers want women who abort to be punished, and that we only care about the babies and hate women. Some pro-lifers have speculated that this may be why Trump said what he did: because he’s not actually pro-life, but he’s trying to say what he thinks pro-lifers believe. This is even the conclusion of pro-choice columnist Charles Krauthammer, who chalked up Trump’s comments to a “lack of curiosity”:

“Anybody who’s been on this issue who knows the pro-life community, who knows what the arguments are and what people really believe, knows that is not true. That is not the position of anybody on the pro-life side,” Krauthammer said. “That is the position that the pro-choice people attribute — this kind of hard-heartedness — to the pro-life side. And that’s apparently what Trump imbibed.”

Regardless of what Trump’s motivations were for saying what he did, Krauthammer is right: it’s not what the vast majority of pro-lifers – who have consistently spoken about how abortion harms women – believe.

The pro-life movement advocates for compassion, understanding, and love toward the women who are victimized by abortionists who prey on and exploit them when they are at their most vulnerable.

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