Why Donald Trump Saying Women Should be “Punished” for Abortions Hurts the Pro-Life Cause

Opinion   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 31, 2016   |   6:37PM   |   Washington, DC

The issue of whether women who have abortions should be punished has been a favorite gotcha question posed to pro-life candidates for years.

It is admittedly a difficult question, and one that deserves a lot of thought. Most pro-lifers lean toward the side of compassion and say women should not be punished. Due, in part, to high rates of coercion, women often are victims of abortion along with their unborn babies. Major pro-life groups agree. They argue that historically abortion doctors are the ones who have been, and should be, punished for the crime because they are the ones knowingly and intentionally killing unborn babies.

But the pro-abortion mainstream media doesn’t play fair with pro-lifers, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump should know this by now.

In an interview Wednesday with MSNBC, which is no friend to pro-lifers, host Chris Matthews asked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump if he thought women should be punished for having abortions if abortion becomes illegal again. Trump responded that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions.

After facing harsh backlash from pro-life and pro-abortion groups alike, Trump took back his original statement and said he believes abortion doctors should be punished, not women. A Trump spokeswoman later called the remark a “simple misspeak.”

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Trump’s original remarks do not reflect the sentiments of most people in the pro-life community, but Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Planned Parenthood and their friends in the mainstream media don’t care about the truth on this issue. Deception is the abortion industry’s game, and they play it well. They pounced on the remark and attacked the entire pro-life movement, painting us as people who hate women and want to send them to jail.

Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, explained why Trump’s thoughtless remark was so damaging:

Most of the media do a very poor job of hiding their support for abortion. They never ask consistent pro-choice politicians why they believe it should be legal to kill a child for the crime of being a girl instead of a boy, of having Down syndrome, or of being an inconvenience. But they always think to press pro-life politicians about rape exceptions to protections for unborn children.

The uniformity of thought among journalists has meant that pro-life politicians have to be very careful how they talk about the sensitive subject. The media may forget to cover serial killing abortionist Kermit Gosnell until forced to by public pressure, but they have no problem writing 243,000 stories about a senate candidate saying something wrong about pregnancy.

Even this story, in which Trump betrayed the pro-life movement, the media treated it as something that only pro-choicers might have a problem with. Bloomberg wrote of it, “The comment, which immediately riled abortion-rights supporters…” Riled, perhaps, but they couldn’t have dreamed of a better comment to position themselves against. The Daily Mail seemed to think Trump’s comment was intended to appeal to pro-lifers! Do they know any pro-lifers?

At the very least, Trump should have planned a more thoughtful response to difficult questions like this. The media asks them to pro-life candidates often enough, so he should know. As Hemingway points out, Trump easily could have responded by calling out the media’s gotcha game – just as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul did in 2015.

Instead, Trump spoke thoughtlessly and opened the doors to a flood of condemnation onto the entire pro-life movement. Abortion activists have been using Trump’s gaffe to attack pro-lifers as unfeeling, uncompassionate and hypocritical.

While much of the fault is with the mainstream media and its ties to the abortion industry, Trump can’t escape some of the blame. Himself a player of the media for years, he should have known the pro-abortion leanings of the liberal media and prepared for such questions.

The “simple misspeak” seems to indicate that Trump just doesn’t understand the pro-life movement well and hasn’t thought much about his position on abortion. If Trump is pro-life, as he says, and truly wants to protect unborn babies and women from the pain of abortion, he needs to do a better job of showing it.