Here we go again. On Wednesday, Donald Trump told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that women who have abortions should be punished — and then later backtracked and said that it's the doctors who perform abortions who deserve punishment, not the women who have them. Trump's controversial abortion comments understandably ruffled more than a few feathers, raising questions about his treatment of women and his ability to govern fairly. Ultimately, though, Trump's comments aren't the only ones that voters should be paying attention to. His toughest opponent in the GOP's race, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has some troubling views of his own.
Responding to a question from Matthews about whether or not women who have abortions should be punished, Trump said, "The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment." Later, he attempted to "clarify" his statement, saying, "This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination." He went on to say that doctors who perform abortions, not women, should be the ones who receive punishment.
Shortly after Trump's statements, Cruz issued a response: "Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn’t seriously thought through the issues, and he’ll say anything just to get attention." While he makes a strong point about Trump's rabble-rousing, Cruz might just want to thank the Donald for seemingly minimizing his own controversial stance on abortion.
As ridiculous as Trump is, Cruz's approach to women's health issues wouldn't be a picnic, either. Cruz is ultra-conservative — so much so, in fact, that he doesn't get along with many folks in D.C., regardless of party affiliation. He has proudly campaigned on a pro-life platform, as most Republican candidates do, but there are some particularly important differences between his stance and that of a majority of Americans.
First and foremost, Cruz has come out in support of a sweeping ban on abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. That means that he aligns with just 19 percent of U.S. adults, who, according to Gallup, believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. A whopping 79 percent of Americans think that abortion should be legal in at least some cases. (Note: I promise I can do math. Two percent of he people polled had no opinion about the topic.)
Even Trump himself said that he's "pro-life with exceptions." He didn't specify those exceptions, but it's likely that he supports abortions at least in cases of rape and incest. (And if Trump starts to make you look crazy, you're probably doing something very wrong.)
Cruz also supports the controversial law in his home state that has led to a Supreme Court battle. Texas House Bill 2 (HB2) places extreme burdens on abortion clinics and the women who seek them. Clinics are required to have wider hallways, larger operating rooms, and admitting privileges at a local hospital, even though abortions typically come with very little risk. The law has already caused some clinics in Texas to shut down, and women may now have to travel long distances to access safe procedures.
If you're feeling uncomfortable with Trump's abortion statements, then you're not alone. But perhaps Cruz is the GOP candidate whom women should be paying attention to — and I don't mean that in a good way. Trump isn't a role model for how to treat women by any means, but Cruz has some statements of his own that he should have to answer for when it comes to reproductive freedom.