Donald Trump has u-turned on earlier calls for women to suffer “some form of punishment” for having an abortion should the procedure be banned in the United States.
The Republican presidential frontrunner said on Wednesday during an interview with MSNBC that as president he would support making abortion illegal across all 50 states.
“Are you going to, say, put them to jail?” Trump said to the host, adding: “There has to be some form of punishment.” When asked to clarify if he meant a punishment for women, Trump said, “Yeah,” though he hasn't "determined what the punishment should be.”
Trump’s campaign, which has struggled with women voters, then "completely flipped" on the comments, releasing a statement that said the matter should be left to the individual states.
In the statement, Trump insisted his position had "not changed", though he went from claiming women should suffer punishment for having abortions to claiming they were the "victims" and the doctors should be punished instead.
Trump’s latest gaffe follows a string of public incidents that demean women. Earlier this month, the businessman retweeted an unflattering picture of the wife of his rival, Ted Cruz. Last year Trump accused a female Fox New host of asking him tough questions because she was menstruating.
Despite the country’s religiosity, a Gallup poll revealed that only 19 percent of Americans want abortion totally banned in all cases.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party frontrunner and Trump’s likely rival in November’s general election, offered the following reflection:
This is not the first time a Republican has stumbled on the issue of gender rights. In 2012, Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin said that in instances of “legitimate rape” the body manages to block unwanted pregnancies.