Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s highly personal war on women escalated significantly, Wednesday. In an MSNBC town hall taping, to be aired later, host Chris Matthews asked the Republican candidates about their stances on abortion, according to Bloomberg. Trump attempted to wiggle away from the question repeatedly, Matthews, saying “this is not something you can dodge,” hammered at the question for nearly a minute and a half before getting a straight answer from Trump, and it was a disturbing one. According to Bloomberg‘s abridged transcript of the exchange,
“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’” Trump answered.
“How about you?” Matthews asked.
“I would say it’s a very serious problem and it’s a problem we have to decide on. Are you going to send them to jail?” Trump said.
“I’m asking you,” Matthews said.
“I am pro-life,” Trump said. Asked how a ban would actually work, Trump said, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places but we have to ban it,” Trump said.
Matthews then pressed Trump on whether he believes there should be punishment for abortion if it were illegal
“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yeah,” Trump said, nodding.
Trump said the punishment would “have to be determined.”
This response goes hand-in-hand with the aggressive sexism that has come to define Trump’s campaign. Trump’s appalling decision to tweet a sexist photo comparing the looks of his wife Melania with the appearance of Heidi Cruz in an unflattering photo, is nothing compared to the threats against women his campaign has recently levied. Trump stood by his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, after he was charged with battery for assaulting former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. Trump blamed Fields, despite video evidence and eyewitness testimony corroborating Fields’s complaint. A Trump supporter pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old female anti-Trump protester in the face at point-blank range during a Trump rally in Wisconsin, Tuesday. Police are looking for the assailant, and say another man groped the minor.
Trump’s statement that he would seek to make abortion illegal, that he would drive women to go to “illegal places” to get an abortion, that he would approve punishment for abortion, is a misogynistic assault on women across the country. The 7-2 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade settled the issue that women have a Constitutional right to privacy, guaranteed under the Ninth Amendment, to decide personally whether or not to terminate their pregnancy, and the government could not enforce laws that interfered with that right.
Since the Tea Party storming of Congress in 2010, zombie bills restricting that fundamental right have crawled out of their pre-Roe graves in states across the country. The fact that the next president will quite likely choose a Supreme Court Justice as one of their first acts, makes it a very real threat to women that Trump could attempt to overturn women’s basic rights to determine the course of their own pregnancies. The idea that he would seek to implement punishment for women who exercise a basic right is authoritarian madness. But it follows a trend in his campaign of trampling rights, by throwing out reporters and whipping up violence against protesters.
The Democratic candidates were quick to pounce on Trump’s misogyny.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse. Horrific and telling. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 30, 2016
Your Republican frontrunner, ladies and gentlemen. Shameful.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 30, 2016