Washington: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has kicked off a political storm with his latest controversial comment that women should be punished for illegal abortions, drawing flak from political opponents who termed the remark "horrific" and "shameful".
"There has to be some form of punishment," Trump said yesterday in an interview with MSNBC news channel after the host asked him: "Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no?" "For the woman?" asked the host. "Yeah, there has to be some form," Trump, 69, responded.
Trump's remarks sparked off a firestorm as his political opponents and women activists slammed him for such an "outrageous" remarks. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton described the comments as "horrific and telling." "Just when you thought it couldn't get worse. Horrific and telling," Clinton, 68, said in a tweet.
Democratic presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders said the comments were "shameful". "Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn't seriously thought through the issues, and he'll say anything just to get attention," said Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Trump, however, issued a quick clarification as the outcry grew, saying doctors performing the illegal act should be held responsible.
"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," Trump said.
"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," Trump said, but the damage to his campaign had already been done. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Trump's vileness and contempt for women knew no bounds.
"It will indeed be Donald Trump and Republican candidates who are punished come November," Schultz said. "If Donald Trump is going to run successfully as a pro-life candidate, it's time he started listening to the pro-life movement," said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League.
"We know how much women suffer from abortion, and how they are lied to by the abortion industry. Any penalty for illegal abortion should fall on abortion providers, not the women who turn to them in desperation," he said.