Trump Reverses Position on Punishing Women Who Get Banned Abortions

The Republican front-runner said he didn't know what the punishment should be.

ByABC News
March 30, 2016, 5:49 PM

— -- Donald Trump has now walked back a statement he made just hours ago that women who undergo abortions, if there were a ban on the procedure, should be punished.

The controversial statement was made during a taping of a town hall held by MSNBC, a portion of which was released by the cable network ahead of the full town hall, which will air tonight.

In the clip of the town hall exchange, Trump is pressed repeatedly by host Chris Matthews if he thinks there should be "some form of punishment," and Trump finally says: "For the woman? ... Yeah."

He said that the punishment in question would "have to be determined."

After the clip was released, ABC News reached out to the Trump campaign for further clarification. The campaign first released the following statement from Trump: "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."

Trump later released another statement, effectively retracting the most controversial portion of the comments he had made during the MSNBC taping. The new statement reads: "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 said in his subsequent statement.

Trump's comments at the MSNBC town hall were quick to draw criticism, including from the head of Planned Parenthood.

The two Democratic candidates also tweeted their feelings moments after the news broke.