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This election cycle, Donald Trump is a conservative, which means he’s against abortion. But Trump today took the conversation in a new direction: Punishing the women who have them.

The typical pro-life argument tends to focus on punishing the doctors performing the abortions, since there’s little political capital gained in prosecuting desperate women. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Trump, who, to be fair, has only recently begun speaking out against abortion.

Trump made the comments to Chris Matthews in a pre-taped Town Hall set to air tonight. In the clip, Matthews clearly asks Trump if, on principle, he believes women should be punished for having abortions. Trump says yes.

MATTHEWS: Should the woman be punished for having an abortion? This is not something you can dodge. If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under the law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican party, and conservative Republicans, would say yes, they should be punished.

MATTHEWS: What about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it’s a very serious problem. And it’s a problem that we have to decide on.

MATTHEWS: But you’re for banning it.

TRUMP: Are you going to say put them in jail? Is that the punishment that you’re talking about?

MATTHEWS: Well no, I’m asking you. Because you say you ban it. What’s that mean?

TRUMP: I am against—I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: How do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it?

TRUMP: Well you’ll go back to a position like they had, where people will perhaps go to illegal places, but you have to ban it.


MATTHEWS: You running for president of the United States, will be chief executive of the United States. Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle.

TRUMP: The answer is there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yeah. There has to be some form.

An interesting proposition, to be sure, and one Trump is already sort of walking back. Trump’s son just tweeted his father meant only if abortion were already illegal, which wasn’t what the question asked, and he Trump campaign just issued this statement: “This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times.”