Trying to Fill Abortion Hole, Trump Digs Deeper


When Donald Trump last Wednesday said mothers should be punished for having abortions, something became very clear to pro-lifers: Trump was not one of them.

On Sunday, he made that even clearer.

It all started when Trump was talking to Chris Matthews at an MSNBC “Town Hall.”

Matthews did something Trump didn’t expect: He asked him details about his pro-life beliefs. If abortion was murder as Trump once said, didn’t women who have had abortions deserve to be punished?

“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said, and then agreed that he meant punishment “for the woman.”

Pro-lifers immediately recognized that this man is not one of us. Pro-lifers consider both the unborn children and the mother to be victims of the abortion industry that gets rich off of this devastating choice and then uses part of their profits to buy politicians.

“Mr. Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini at March for Life. “This is against the very nature of what we are about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”

Trump immediately started to backtrack from the statement — but when he did so on a  Sunday broadcast of Face the Nation, he only made himself seem more out of touch.

Bro do you even pro-lifeWhen host John Dickerson asked him about it, Trump didn’t say he misspoke — he said he imitated the wrong pro-lifers.

“I have been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on the basis of an older line from years ago, very — on a very conservative basis,” he said.

Am I wrong, or does that sound like he is saying, “I am having trouble figuring out what these people want me to say”?

Then, he went further. He said, several times: “I think it would have been better if it were up to the states. But, right now, the laws are set. And that’s the way the laws are.”

That sounds like two political dodges in one: The sudden federalism that some lawmakers develop when they want to avoid taking a stand on the right to life, along with the line, “The laws are what they are, and we must simply follow the law.”

But Dickerson pressed him. Doesn’t he want to change the law?

Said Trump: “At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”

Dickerson said, wait. Don’t you still think abortion is murder?

Trump said, “I have my opinions on it, but I would rather not comment on it.”

Trump fought hard not to tell Dickerson what he believes about abortion, and only kind of became grudgingly pro-life in this exchange:

DICKERSON: But you don’t disagree with that proposition that it’s murder?

TRUMP: What proposition?

DICKERSON: That abortion is murder?

TRUMP: No, I don’t disagree with it.

What does he believe? It is hard to tell. Voters who are sick of voting for pro-life candidates who don’t deliver, take notice. Trump isn’t even reliably pro-life as a candidate. What do you think he will do as a president? We have no way of knowing.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and edits The Gregorian, a Catholic identity speech digest. He was previously editor of the National Catholic Register for 10 years and with his wife, April, of Faith & Family magazine for five. A frequent contributor to Catholic publications, he began his career as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area and as press secretary for U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer. He lives in Atchison with his wife and those of his nine children still at home. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

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