Donald Trump says he has "not determined what the punishment would be" for women who get abortions

By Tierney McAfee
Updated March 30, 2016 04:10 PM
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Donald Trump said Wednesday in Wisconsin that abortion should be outlawed in the U.S. and that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who undergo the procedure under the hypothetical ban.

In an interview with MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews, Trump repeatedly said he was “pro-life,” and when pressed to describe how he thinks a potential abortion ban should be legally enforced, he said the “answer is that there has to be some form of punishment, yeah.”

The GOP front-runner added that he has “not determined what the punishment would be” and noted that he does “take positions on everything else but this is a very complicated position.”

If the U.S. were to overturn the landmark SCOTUS ruling Roe v. Wade, Trump said, “You’ll go back to a position like they had where people will, perhaps, go to illegal places.”

Nevertheless, he maintains, “You have to ban [abortion].”

Shortly after Trump’s MSNBC interview aired, his campaign released a statement clarifying his position:

“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. 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.”

Trump has been criticized in recent months for his self-described “evolution” on abortion. In a 1999 interview with NBC’s Meet the Press he described himself as “very pro-choice,” although he said he “[hated] the concept of abortion.”

He addressed his “evolved” stance during an August 2015 Republican debate, saying, “I’ve evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? … Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues … And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.”