GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Wednesday that women who get abortions should receive “some form of punishment” if abortion is banned, once again sparking controversy with days to go before Wisconsin’s primary.
In a heated exchange with MSNBC host Chris Matthews at the taping of a town hall in Green Bay, Wisconsin that will air on Wednesday night, Trump was asked whether he believes that abortion should be outlawed in the country.
After an extended back-and-forth, the billionaire businessman said “you have to ban” them and that, “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who violate that restriction.
Pressed by Matthews on the nature of that punishment, Trump responded, “I haven’t determined what the punishment should be.”
Trump also suggested that women could continue to receive abortions, but at “illegal places.”
“You know you’ll go back to a position like where they had where people perhaps will go to illegal places,” he said.
Asked to clarify his position, Trump’s campaign issued a statement after the taping saying that he believes the issue should rest with the states.
“This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination,” Trump said. “Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro- life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times.”
Trump has often said that he’s opposed to abortions except in the case of three exceptions: rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk.
Trump has been criticized by some conservatives for his flip-flop on the issue of abortion. Trump used to describe himself as in favor of abortion rights, but says his stance has evolved over the years.
Jill Colvin in Jersey City, New Jersey contributed to this report.