Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump grappled on Thursday with the fallout from his comments on punishing women for having an abortion, including from his rivals in the race for the White House.
The billionaire businessman rowed back rapidly on Wednesday from his statement during an MSNBC town hall that women who end pregnancies should be punished if the United States bans abortion. The comments provoked a storm of rebukes from both sides of the abortion debate.
His campaign continued to address the repercussions on Thursday.
Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said his initial comments were a “simple misspeak” and that he does not support penalizing women for having abortions, even if they are illegal.
“You have a presidential candidate that clarified the record not once but twice,” Pierson told CNN. She described Trump as “pro-life with exceptions” and pointed to Trump’s two statements that followed the MSNBC interview as an accurate depiction of his views.
“We shouldn’t make this a 24-hour headline when we have things like terrorism going on in the world,” she said.
Trump, leading in the race to win the Republican Party nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election, pulled back from his initial comments within an hour, first issuing a statement that U.S. states should handle abortion issues and later saying doctors who perform abortions should be held responsible.
The latest controversy ignited by the New York real estate tycoon threatened to further erode his standing with women voters. Many women are already offended by the candidate’s vulgarities and insulting language he has used to describe women.
Abortion was legalized in a Supreme Court ruling more than 40 years ago, but the procedure has long divided American politics.
Opposition to abortion is a central plank in the platform of most conservative politicians. While Trump...