On Abortion, Hillary Clinton Isn't Just Holding Donald Trump Responsible

One day after Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump stated that women seeking abortions should receive "some form of punishment" if the procedure is banned, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton slammed Trump's anti-choice proposal. On Thursday, Clinton's campaign released a video in which the former secretary of state sharply rebukes Trump's proposal as "outrageous and dangerous." She also calls out the Republican Party, which she says "largely agrees with him." That her attack was not just against Trump but the GOP as a whole suggests that Clinton may be using abortion debates to pivot toward the general election.

The video features clips from an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow during which Clinton said, "People who believe that women have just as much right to make our personal decisions as men should be joined together to speak out and call out Donald Trump not only for what he said, but for the Republican party that largely agrees with him." Her argument that not only Trump but the entire GOP should be scrutinized for its anti-abortion rhetoric and legislative efforts suggests that Clinton and the Democratic Party may find a way to use Trump's proposal — which even his fellow candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz have criticized — to prepare for the November election. Trump has walked back from his initial suggestion of punishment for women, and now says that abortion providers are the ones who should be punished under a hypothetical ban.

There is nothing surprising about Clinton's response to Trump's remarks. Throughout her political career, Clinton has been an outspoken champion of reproductive rights, and she has received the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Women in particular must know that this right that we have guaranteed to us under the Constitution could be taken away," she warned during the Maddow interview.

Clinton's remarks speak to a concern that many in the pro-choice movement have expressed in recent years — namely, that even their supporters have become too comfortable in assuming that basic access to abortion had been secured by Roe v. Wade. Some fear that advocates have been complacent as more and more states have passed laws to restrict women's reproductive rights. As Kentucky state legislator Mary Lou Marzian (who has been one of the most fervent opponents of her state's abortion restrictions) told Bustle earlier this year, she worries that "the pro-choice movement has felt that war is over, that we've got access to safe, legal access to abortions. It's always easier to fight against something. It's harder to rev up people when we have that right."