Donald Trump got massive bipartisan backlash last week for saying that women who have abortions should face "some form of punishment." That's not a popular idea with either anti-abortion or pro-choice activists, so his campaign had to clarify that Trump in fact believes doctors, not women, should face criminal punishment if abortion is outlawed.
Trump had trouble sticking to this narrative, however. On Saturday, Right Wing Watch reports, Trump seemed to double down on his original statement in an interview with conservative radio host Joe Pags.
Trump said that he "didn't see any big deal" about the comments at the time he made them, and bragged about how "a lot of people" thought his answer was "excellent" and a "very good answer."
Pags said he thought Chris Matthews's abortion questioning was "ridiculous," and asked Trump why he even bothered to go on MSNBC in the first place.
It was a hypothetical question. A lot of people thought my answer was excellent, by the way. There were a lot of people who thought that was a very good answer. It was a hypothetical question. I didn’t see any big deal and then all of a sudden there was somewhat of a storm. And you know, it’s interesting, this morning I’m hearing two hosts on television that were critical and they said, "We really thought his first answer was very good." Because you can’t win. "We thought it was good, what was wrong with his first answer?" And I heard a pastor, who is a fantastic pastor, saying, "Well, you know, if you think about it, his first answer is right."
Pags seemed to agree, responding that Trump's original answer was "consistent with conservatism."
A lot of conservatives vehemently disagree with Pags on this, arguing that women are "victims" of abortion and should be treated with compassion. But he's correct in the sense that anti-abortion laws passed by conservative legislators have been used to prosecute women for abortion or miscarriage in America, even if that's not their original intent.
Aside from Trump's pro-choice stance in the past, the Washington Post reported that the candidate took five different positions on abortion in three days after his original comments. This is arguably the sixth.
Trump also said Friday that "the laws are set" right now on abortion, and that "we have to leave it that way" — which angered anti-abortion advocates for the opposite reason that his initial "punishment" comment did. The campaign stepped in again after that, arguing that Trump meant the law is set "until he is president" and can nominate the right judges who will change the law.