Trump slammed for abortion 'punishment' comment

Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 08:53:33-04

GREEN BAY, WI -- The latest conversation to cause controversy for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went something like this:

"Do you believe in punishment for abortion?  Yes, or no as a principle," asks MSNBC moderator and Hardball host Chris Matthews, during Trump's town hall-style interview in Green Bay Wednesday.

"The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment," responds Trump, after brief thought.
"For the woman?" asks Matthews.
"Yeah," replies Trump, "there has to be some form."
Tonight, the fallout over Trump's controversial comment about abortion punishment is growing on both sides of the issue. There has been a wave of backlash on social media, and national news outlets.
Here, in Wisconsin, one pro-life group is even making it clear they don't agree with trump on this one. 
As soon as the words were spoken, the competition wasted no time in condemning Trump's comment.

"Of course women shouldn't be punished," replied Gov. John Kasich to a reporter's question immediately following Trump's town hall.

On Twitter, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz says that "we shouldn't be talking about punishing women," adding this statement to his official website:

"Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues, and he’ll say anything just to get attention. On the important issue of the sanctity of life, what’s far too often neglected is that being pro-life is not simply about the unborn child; it’s also about the mother — and creating a culture that respects her and embraces life. Of course we shouldn't’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world."

Meanwhile, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are calling the comment "shameful" and "abhorrent."

But the backlash tonight isn't solely from his opponents, with voters we spoke with saying the comment makes Trump look inexperienced on the issues.

"They must be in a place that's really hard for them," says Emily Barros, of Green Bay, "for Donald Trump to say something like that... is kind of out of his range. He shouldn't be passing those judgments when he doesn't know much about it." 

Even the anti-abortion group, Wisconsin Right to Life, released this statement, saying:

"Wisconsin Right to Life has long opposed the imposition of any penalties on the woman on whom an abortion is attempted or performed. Rather, penalties should be imposed against any abortionist who would take the life of an unborn child in defiance of statutes prohibiting abortions."

This latest controversy comes as the Republican candidate has already been dealing with his campaign manager facing battery charges in Florida.

The Trump campaign issued a statement a short time later about the comment:
"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."