Donald Trump sparked a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday when he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he believes abortion should be illegal and that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have them.
The Republican frontrunner later walked back those comments, first saying that the abortion issue should be decided by the states, and then falling in line with pro-life groups who say doctors who perform illegal abortions should be punished — not women.
“The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman,” Trump said a statement. “The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”
“My position has not changed,” he added. “Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.”
Trump speaks on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in 1999. (Photo: NBC)
Trump, though, was once firmly pro-choice.
In an Oct. 24, 1999, interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” the real estate mogul — who was then a candidate for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination — was asked by host Tim Russert to explain his views on abortion.
“Well, look, I’m — I’m very pro-choice,” Trump said. “I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject, but you still — I just believe in choice. Again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country. And, you know, I was raised in New York, and grew up and work and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice and yet I hate the concept of abortion.”