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