Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday there would “have to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if the procedure were outlawed in the U.S.
The comment, which is sure to rile abortion-rights supporters, came during a week where Trump is fighting to defend himself on women’s issues on multiple fronts ahead of a key primary in Wisconsin.
At a taping of an MSNBC town hall to be aired later, host Chris Matthews pressed Trump on his anti-abortion position, repeatedly asking him: “Should abortion be punished? This is not something you can dodge.”
“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’ ” Trump answered.
“How about you?” Matthews asked.
“I would say it’s a very serious problem and it’s a problem we have to decide on. Are you going to send them to jail?” Trump said.
“I’m asking you,” Matthews said.
“I am pro-life,” Trump said. Asked how a ban would actually work, Trump said, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places but we have to ban it.”
Matthews then pressed Trump on whether he believes there should be punishment for abortion if it were illegal
“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yeah,” Trump said, nodding.
Trump said the punishment would “have to be determined.”
Trump said the stakes of the general election are high because of the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. President Barack Obama has nominated a replacement whom Senate Republicans say they won’t consider because of the impending national vote.
“They’ve set the law and frankly the judges, you’re going to have a very big election coming up for that reason because you have judges where it’s a real tipping point and with the loss of Scalia, who was a very strong conservative, this presidential election is going to be very important,” Trump said.
“When you say what’s the law, nobody knows what the law is going to be. It depends on who gets elected,” Trump said.