Update at 5:50 pm EST: Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement Wednesday afternoon reversing his position on punishing women for seeking abortions. In it, Trump said he would punish providers, not women, if abortions were banned.
Donald Trump said Wednesday that “there has to be some form of punishment” for a woman seeking an abortion if it is outlawed in the United States.
Trump was asked by Chris Matthews at an MSNBC town hall whether getting an abortion should be punished if it were considered a crime, such as murder, under the law.
“Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and conservative Republicans would say yes, they should be punished,” Trump replied.
Matthews then pressed Trump to say whether abortion should be punished.
“Are you saying put them in jail?” Trump said as Matthews pressed him again on whether he would ban it.
“I am pro life, yes,” Trump said, before Matthews pressed him a third time.
“You go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places, but you have to ban it,” Trump said. He then tried to pivot to what Matthews thought, since Matthews is a Catholic.
The two went back-and-forth for a bit until Matthews tried to pin Trump down again.
“The churches make their moral judgements…but you’re running to be president of the United States, to be chief executive of the United States,” he said. “Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no? As a principle.”
Trump responded, “The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” and confirmed that he was referring to a punishment for the woman. When Matthews asked if that punishment should be “ten cents” or “ten years,” Trump said he didn’t know.
“Why not? You take positions on everything else,” Matthews asked.
“I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position,” Trump said.
Not long after the segment aired, the Trump campaign sent a statement to NBC News attempting to clarify the remarks, which MSNBC’s Kate Snow read on air.
“This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions which I have outlined numerous times,” the statement said, according to Snow.
MSNBC was able to pose the same question to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who said, “absolutely not” to the idea of punishing women for having an abortion.
“I do have exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, but abortions shouldn’t be punished,” Kasich said. “I’m sure Donald Trump will say he didn’t say it or he was misquoted or whatever, but I don’t think so.”
He added that he didn’t think the position was an “an appropriate response” and that “it’s a difficult enough situation than to try to punish somebody.”
Asked how he would enforce an abortion ban, Kasich said, “You have to be very careful how you do it. We’re a long way from there. “