Donald Trump now seems to be courting the all-important social conservative vote, whether his movement toward a pro-life position is heart-felt or not.
When questioned closely by Chris Matthews about his evolving views on abortion — “…are you going to say put them in jail? Is that the punishment you’re talking about?” — Trump said the, “answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.”
Some, though not all, pro-lifers were outraged.
Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America said:
No one in the pro-life movement wants to punish women who have abortions. Women facing crisis pregnancies deserve compassion, love, understanding and tangible support, which is why pro-lifers are against abortion. Not only does abortion end a human life, it’s the very opposite of empowerment, love, and compassion for women. To suggest that women be punished for their decision is an inept and reckless statement and should be rescinded.
Professor Robert George of Princeton says that Trump’s statement proves he is not really pro-life at all.
When candidates for high office are faking it in order to persuade a party’s base that, appearances and past record to the contrary notwithstanding, they really, really are “with the program,” they step into dangerous territory. They need to say what the base wants to hear. Indeed, they need to sound like one of the faithful. But since they are faking it, and not actually speaking from conviction, the risk is grave that they will say something that blows their cover. Indeed, the risk is always there that they will say something that sounds to true believers like a caricature or burlesque of the philosophy they are purporting to embrace.
Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute of Connecticut said:
The real issue here is that Donald Trump is an absolute flaming disaster for the pro-life cause. He is saying this because he thinks it is what we want to hear. He does not know who we are, what we believe, how his words set us back, how they play right into the hands of the pro-abortion movement. And he does not care.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said Trump’s statement was “ill-informed.”
Others had a softer view. Recognizing that his statement was wrong, they felt his statement nonetheless showed movement.
Father Frank Pavone saved his fire for the Democrats rather than Trump,
I have not spoken to Mr. Trump about this, but do look forward to doing so, and I am confident that he will listen to the voices and testimonies of women who suffer from abortion. One thing I will say is that those who — mistakenly — think there should be a punishment for the women are much easier to bring to the right position than those who take the even more outrageous, offensive, and disastrous position — like Sanders, Clinton, and the Democratic platform — that the dismemberment and decapitation of children should continue in a practically unlimited way. In the former position, there’s an acknowledgment that society has to do something about the massive holocaust of children. In the latter position, there is a psychotic break with reality much like the terrorists have when, like the abortions, they dismember and decapitate innocent human lives.
Margorie Danenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said, “As a convert to the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump sees the reality of the horror of abortion – the destruction of an innocent human life – which is legal in our country up until the moment of birth. But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”
Eric Scheidler of the Illinois-based Pro-Life Action League told Breitbart News, “Trump is new to this issue, and I give him the benefit of the doubt. Now let’s talk about what a legal ban on abortion would really look like.”
Alveda King, a pro-life leader who is the neice of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King said:
These opportunities should be teachable moments since Much of America is ignorant about the truth of the harm and deception abortion breeds. Correct and teach rather than attack allows people to see the compassion of our movement. I used to parrot everything Mr. Trump has been saying. I once was pro-choice; ignorant and wrong. Compassion and truth won me over, not harsh judgment and condemnation. We could all learn from the strategies of Rachael’s Vineyard and Silent No More.
Almost immediately after the fire-storm, Trump walked back his statement about punishment and his new statement shows he has advisers who are well-versed in pro-life language and policy.
If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.