Trump Backtracks: If Abortion Were Banned I’d Punish Providers, Not Women

Donald Trump reversed his position Wednesday on what should happen to women who seek abortions if they were outlawed in the U.S., first claiming women should face “some form of punishment” and later framing them as “victims” of doctors performing an “illegal act.”

“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,” Trump said in an emailed statement. “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.”

The GOP frontrunner ignited a firestorm of controversy for claiming during an MSNBC town hall, set to air in full on Wednesday night, that women should be punished for seeking to terminate their pregnancies if abortions were outlawed.

Shortly after a preview of those comments aired, Trump’s campaign issued a brief statement calling the abortion issue “unclear” and saying it “should be put back into the states for determination.” Trump later issued the formal statement saying abortion providers should be held responsible for the procedure, not women.

Both pro- and anti-choice groups were quick to condemn Trump’s initial remark for singling out women for punishment.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: