One of the things people say they love about Donald Trump is that he doesn't give pat answers. He's shoots from the hip. Well, he just shot from the hip into his own foot. And the pro-life movement was injured in the melee as well.
Trump just got bullied by Chris Matthews into saying women should be punished for seeking abortion.
My first question is how does Trump go on Chris Matthews show and not know this is going to be asked. I've honestly watched Chris Matthews something like six times in the past five years. I think on three of them he's raised this question to pro-lifers in an attempt to discredit their position. You know the drill. We've all heard it. If abortion is murder then why don't pro-lifers support women being brought up on murder charges. If you don't support women being punished then you don't actually think abortion is the killing of a human being. But there's ways to handle this question. Trump's complete unpreparedness for this question exhibits a startling unseriousness. Surprise surprise.
People who have been in the pro-life community for some time or who have done any thinking on this issue have faced this question. Trump clearly hasn't. He's very new to being pro-life and he seems uncurious about all of it. Here's how a pro like Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, handles it:
“Mattie Brinkerhoff, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, said that when a woman undergoes an abortion it is evidence she has been ‘greatly wronged.’ The Revolution, the newspaper owned and operated by Susan B. Anthony published an op-ed asserting that, on abortion, “thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.’ Alice Paul was known to have called abortion ‘the ultimate exploitation of women.’ “We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion.
“As a convert to the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump sees the reality of the horror of abortion – the destruction of an innocent human life – which is legal in our country up until the moment of birth. But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”
Drop mic. That's how that should be handled.
As far as Matthews' argument, you've got to appreciate the irony of Matthews coming off as a law and order type. Hey, if it's against the law someone's going to the hoosegow, right pardner? Yes, we all know how the left is all about law and order. So I have to ask, does Matthews support punishing people who come into the country illegally? Does he support throwing people in jail for smoking marijuana? No. But those are still against the law, right? But would he support throwing people in jail for exploiting illegal immigrants and for drug dealers? I bet he would because those people exploit the vulnerable. In much the same way, those who profit from abortions should be the ones punished. Let's not act as if mercy and law have nothing to do with each other. The entire premise of leftism, which Matthews often advocates, is that government can have a beneficial impact on people's lives. But on this one issue he pretends that there's no room for mercy or understanding. It's a straw man and I wish he'd put it away.
Back to Trump. Trump's answer stops the pro-life movement in its tracks. The good news is that some people probably don't really consider Trump a pro-life spokesperson. The bad news is that you can be assured that every Republican candidate is going to be asked this question now and that's not where we want this debate to be. You can rest assured that Hillary Clinton will be discussing Trump's Todd Akin moment in the general election.
In short, here's the headline: "Trump talks about punishing women for abortion. Pro-lifers hardest hit."
Mr. Trump, please stop talking about abortion, at least until you've talked to experts and done some research.