March for Life President: Pro-Life People Don’t Believe Women Should be “Punished” for Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2016   |   10:40AM   |   Washington, DC

In a new interview in the wake of controversial comments from Donald Trump on whether or not women should be “punished” for having illegal abortions, the head of the March for Life says pro-life people don’t believe women should be punished. Trump now says he misspoke and says women should not be punished.

Jeannie Mancini said the pro-life movement disagrees with the initial position Trump took before quickly changing course. Here’s an edited transcript and video of her interview with MSNBC:

MSNBC: Okay, thank you so much, Cecile Richards. I’m joined by Jeannie Mancini, March for life.  What do you think about what we saw yesterday from Mr. Trump?

MANCINI:  Was a surprise and real disappointment.

MSNBC:  Surprise for me too.

MANCINI:  It’s not in line with the pro-life movement. We believe to be pro-life is to be pro woman and pro baby. A woman who chooses a abortion is backed into a corner out of desperation. She needs a path to hope and healing.

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MSNBC: What about the people use terms like murder? When they go murder, what are you going to do about it if it’s a murder.

MANCINI:  And it is taking a life. When a woman is looking at abortion, she can choose adoption, bring the child to term, she can choose abortion. She thinks if she chooses abortion, she erases the life. They have the experience of grief after having chosen it, you can’t erase a life. I do not know one member of Congress that punishes women on this.

MSNBC:  [Trump] has said that.

MANCINI:  He has backtracked. But yesterday shows he could use some time with pro-life leaders.

MSNBC: Do you believe he is pro-life.

MANCINI:  I can’t judge his heart.

MSNBC: Do you believe he is politically pro-life.

MANCINI:  I would be happy to meet with him.

MSNBC:  Do you take him at his word.

MANCINI:  What else can you do. I can’t judge his heart. He should be more educated.

MSNBC:  I can’t argue with that. Thank you for coming on.

Yesterday, Trump surrogates were doing damage control — also saying he misspoke — for the Republican presidential candidate after he told MSNBC in an interview that women should be punished for having abortions if abortions are someday banned again.

“Should abortion be punished? This is not something you can dodge,” pro-abortion MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked him.

“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’” Trump responded.

Trump later added that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions after a ban is implemented, acknowledging the punishment would “have to be determined.”

Trump quickly walked back his statement in two successive statements from his campaign and said his position is that abortion practitioners should be held accountable, not the women involved.

“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 Trump campaign said in the statement  just hours later after significant criticism.

Abortion activists like Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood have already seized on the comments to bash pro-life people and many pro-life advocates have said Trump hurt the pro-life cause with his comment and subsequent reversal.

While pro-life advocates yearn for the day when unborn children are protected under law and abortions are banned, the pro-life movement has historically opposed punishing women who have abortions — instead focusing on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children they kill in abortions.

That pro-woman mentality is partly due to the understanding that the abortion industry preys on women — selling them abortions by lying to them about the humanity of their unborn children and the destructive effects abortion will have. The pro-woman, pro-life attitude is also partly due to the fact that the pro-life movement is led by millions of women who had abortions and now deeply regret their decisions, thanks to a change of heart on abortion, or a religious conversion or a simply understanding that they took the life of their own child.

When abortions were illegal pre-Roe, women were not prosecuted and current abortion bans, such as the ban on partial-birth abortions, do not punish women who have abortions.