Trump and abortion

So, presumably you heard about Trump making comments that women should be punished for having abortion.  And then very quickly walking this back once he learned that was not what he was supposed to say.  A brief bit from Vox:

Donald Trump blew up the news cycle on Wednesday by telling Chris Matthews at a town hall that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if the procedure is outlawed.

Trump later reversed course and said that if abortion were illegal, criminal penalties would fall on doctors, not women. That’s the mainstream pro-life position, but Trump seemingly wasn’t aware of this…

Here’s what Twitter had to say about the whole thing.

Many pro-life people were upset by Trump’s comments, and said they don’t represent the movement

Years – decades! – of the pro-life movement saying it’s not looking to punish anyone for abortion, cut out at the knees by Trump.

— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) March 30, 2016
Trump’s comments are what someone who isn’t actually pro-life would think someone who is pro-life would want to hear

— Josh Perry (@MrJoshPerry) March 30, 2016
In all my years of being pro life, I’ve never heard another pro lifer want anything but grace and healing for women who’ve had abortions

— Michele Frost (@michelelfrost) March 30, 2016
This is the pro-life movement I know:

— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) March 30, 2016
Some said Trump’s views show that he’s not truly pro-life

Don’t overthink it: Trump doesn’t understand the pro-life position because he’s not pro-life.

— Brian Phillips (@RealBPhil) March 30, 2016
Trump demonstrated his “flexibility” on the abortion flip flop. #DelicateDonald

— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) March 30, 2016
How can we have any idea what Trump will believe tomorrow when Trump has no idea what Trump will believe tomorrow.

— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) March 30, 2016
Others argued that Trump exposed the reality of pro-life policies, and the underlying logic of the pro-life position

Every R running for prez agrees with Trump on “punishing” women who get abortions. That’s what it means for abortion to be illegal.

— Zach Carter (@zachdcarter) March 30, 2016
Nope. This wasn’t a verbal malfunction. This was an unplanned moment of honesty that should be taken seriously.

— Pamela Merritt (@SharkFu) March 30, 2016

Why is it against the mainstream pro-life movement to argue for criminal punishment for women who have abortions? I would argue that it is simply for the reason that this is a politically very unpalatable positions, as Trump has just made eminently clear. Logically, if you are going to argue that abortion is the moral equivalent of murder– as many in the pro-life movement do, how could you possibly argue that the woman who seeks out and chooses to have an abortion is not criminally culpable? It literally does not make sense. Trump, being a fake pro-lifer just telling conservatives what they wanted to hear, naturally assumed they would support punishing women who obtain abortions. I actually see it as somewhat parallel to the Catholic Church’s unwillingness to publicly condemn and call for the outlawing of IVF.

Now, I don’t blame the pro-life people for being politically expedient– that’s what you do to succeed in politics.  But then again, if you are going to claim that you are making a moral, not a political argument, it seems to me you need to follow through on the logic of that moral argument.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to Trump and abortion

  1. rgbact says:

    Not really. Its like why Democrats rarely mention locking up gunowners, but rather talk about going after gun manufacturers. Its why we prosecute drug dealers more than drug users. Its why we have more scorn for businesses that hire illegals, than the illegals that want jobs. Theres such a thing as preying on the weak and vulnerable. A pregnant woman with no husband is considered vulnerable….and Planned Parenthood is the business that preys on them. The best tact politically is to make them the bogeyman.

    But again, you can imagine Trump running as a Democrat and being for gun control, and easily being led into admitting he wants to jails lots of gunowners. Thats called a gotcha, and he fell for it..

    • Jon K says:

      Planned parenthood provides a legal medical procedure that women seek. It does not “prey” on women.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Yes, really. We don’t lock up gunowners because it’s legal to own guns. We do prosecute drug users far too much. And I’ve noticed plenty of scorn on illegal immigrants.

      • rgbact says:

        Thats not the point. Most liberals if you asked them for their real opinion….would happily support a total ban on guns in America. But they know not to discuss it too much, since its not great politics. Democrat politicians especially know this, so they talk about “gun safety”, never about locking gunowners up…..when in reality, thats what they support in an ideal world. Trump isn’t polished enough to know to avoid gotchas though……or to avoid interviews with lib hacks on MSNBC

        The bashing illegals is also bad politics (and Trump does that too!). Instead, we should be going after the businesses that hire them. Its more effective policy….and its better.politics Else liberals are then able to make every illegal a bleeding heart case and Republicans are the meanies who want to “tear apart families”. .

  2. R. Jenrette is ridiculous says:

    To say that women are not responsible for their own abortions when they have sought out the practitioner and spent money and time seeking them is ridiculous. They run the gauntlet at clinics that perform abortion, which in itself is a form of punishment going on today when abortion is not only legal but a Constitutional right.
    To say the women are not responsible is the ultimate in saying that women are lesser people who don’t have the capacity to make judgements for themselves.
    Of course, the “pro-life” movement says only the abortionist is responsible. It knows very well that it would lose the whole argument to ban abortion if it openly acknowledged its goal.
    It’s that old Puritanism again. People can’t enjoy the pleasures of life without guilt and other consequences. If women enjoy sex, they must pay the price. Men, well, they can’t help themselves and are trapped by the women.
    If women are truly equal, they take full responsibility for their decisions. If abortion becomes criminal by law, the woman and those who abet her are surely criminals. Women are not weak creatures who are always the victims.

    • Jon K says:

      RGBact says we should go after employers of illegal immigrants. Good luck with that. Liberal groups like the Chamber of Commerce will oppose you. See a lot of Republicans own businesses that employ illegal immigrants, and they like the current system. It keeps wages lower, saves them money on taxes, and helps them make money. That is a huge reason ideas like mandatory e-verify go nowhere.

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