GOP Reaction To Donald Trump's Abortion Remarks Even Has Right-Wingers Saying WTF
Another day, another sexist remark from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. But it seems that Trump's latest remarks on abortion may have finally been a step too far out of line, even for the GOP establishment. Though he has changed his position on abortion multiple times during his decades in the media spotlight, the businessman has now found himself voicing a particularly archaic, dangerous rhetoric, suggesting that women should be "punished" for undergoing the medical procedure. This has caused alarm even within the GOP itself, which is now scrambling to both backpedal from and fight against Trump's remarks. (No word on whether the party's consistent anti-choice legislation will follow suit.)
Trump made these most recent remarks during a town hall interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday, in which the two discussed the GOP frontrunner's plan to flat-out ban abortion. The exchange itself was a bizarre back-and-forth, as Trump tried to evoke the Catholic Church as a bargaining chip between himself and Matthews (Matthews is Catholic, which, according to Trump, should rule out any possibility of him also being pro-choice). The two danced around the church and state argument, and eventually settled on Trump suggesting there should be a punishment for women who receive abortions. Matthews argued that, legally speaking, Trump's proposed all-out ban on abortion would have to include some type of punishment, given that the procedure would be considered a crime under the law.
Though he dodged giving a direct answer for some time, Trump eventually settled on this terrifying note:
Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places, but you have to ban it ... The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment [for the woman].
Later in the interview, the GOP frontrunner stated that the man who gets the woman pregnant should not be responsible under the law if the woman seeks an abortion. Matthews reminded Trump that a man is "usually involved," but he seemed largely unfazed by this fact.
Despite the GOP's anti-choice stance on abortion, these comments were apparently too much. The Republican establishment has spent the last several months attempting to corral an increasingly unruly Trump campaign, and remarks like this demonstrate their continual failure to do so. Since the comments were made this afternoon, multiple Republican politicians and anti-choice advocates have spoken out against Trump and his "punishment" proposal.
GOP opponents John Kasich and Ted Cruz were quick to jump on Trump's comments, hoping to seize upon his obvious gaffe. Cruz was one of the first to argue against Trump:
Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues, and he’ll say anything just to get attention ... Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.
Others in the GOP establishment have also condemned Trump's comments. Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist who worked on Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, said that this shows that "Trump needs to be stopped before he somehow gets to the nomination. We're past the point of no return with him." Even anti-choice women's groups have turned their back on this type of rhetoric. Organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List and the March for Life released statements condemning Trump's idea as well:
Taking note of the firestorm he created (for once), Trump recanted his statements less than three hours later, claiming he meant that doctors who perform the procedure, not women, should be punished. Nevertheless, his statements already set an important wheel in motion. This immediate turn on Trump show he has really changed the game, and perhaps has done so inadvertently in women's favor. Conservatives' quickness to distance themselves from this rhetoric hopefully indicates that Republicans may be forced to advocate for less harsh positions on abortion, lest they fall in line with Trump.
Trump's extremism creates a line that even the GOP seems unwilling to cross, and perhaps, in this way, forces the hands of some of abortion's harshest critics.