You can get the entire transcript of the now-famous interview here, but Chris Matthew’s town hall meeting interviewing Donald Trump and then taking questions from the audience included a fascinating exchange on the topic of abortion. Now that “The Donald” is on record as changing from pro-death to pro-life, his position on abortion has become fresh meat for attackers from the left (and now from the right as well as we will see). The question did not focus on Trump being pro-life; rather, it focused on a hypothetical. The gist of it was: “If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, and if abortion were to be outlawed, would you, Donald Trump, support punishing a woman who would break the law and have an abortion anyway?” Here is part of the actual exchange:
MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman.
TRUMP: Yeah, there has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?
TRUMP: I don’t know. That I don’t know. That I don’t know.
From that little exchange (and more during the conversation), all Hell broke loose on Donald Trump. And not just from the left, mind you, but from the right as well. Pro-lifers as well as, predictably, the pro-death camp, lambasted Donald Trump as an absolute buffoon for holding this position. “How dare you say a woman should be punished for having an abortion!” Rachel Maddow of MSNBC claimed Trump said “women should be jailed” for having an abortion, which, of course he did not say. And there have been many on the right and the left make similar and ill-informed accusations. Mr. Trump actually said the kind of punishment was impossible for him to lay out because of the complex nature of the question. And he was right there as well.
But the backlash was so intense and so immediate that Donald Trump back-peddled and changed his position saying, in effect, only the abortionist should be punished, not the woman having as abortion.
And, unfortunately, Ted Cruz was quick to jump on the bandwagon and condemn the notion that a woman should even be considered to be punished… for murdering her child.
Why Donald Trump God It Right the First Time Around
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not defending Donald Trump here. I am not excusing or denying the fact that Trump was obviously ill-prepared for this question and he said a number of things that were reminiscent of a Monty Python skit they were so bad. For example, when asked whether or not he would ban abortion and then what that means… well… read it for yourself:
MATTHEWS: But you’re for banning it?
TRUMP: I’m going to say — well, wait. Are you going to say, put them in jail? Are you — is that the (inaudible) you’re talking about?
MATTHEWS: Well, no, I’m asking you because you say you want to ban it. What’s that mean?
TRUMP: I would — I am against — I am pro-life, yes.
MATTHEWS: What is ban — how do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it?
TRUMP: Well, you know, you go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places –
TRUMP: But you have to ban it.
When I was watching this that turned into a debate between Trump and the “moderator,” Chris Matthews, and I heard Mr. Trump say this, my thought was: “He didn’t really just say that, did he? Did he really just say, ‘You go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places?’ Are you kidding me?”
Granted, Trump often speaks so unintelligibly that I don’t think even he knows what he means, but to hand his enemies a line like this?
Can someone really be that stupid?
So of course both should be punished as a normal rule. We are talking about murder here, folks! However, just as it is with any homicide, there should be an investigation to discover who is truly culpable and to what degree. In the case of a forced abortion, for example, the woman is not culpable for the act at all. If there are threats made by a father, a husband, a boyfriend, etc., the culpability of the woman would be greatly diminished. In our legal system here in the U.S., we have gradations of labels for the crime of homicide that correspond to the levels of culpability for the act. We have 1st degree, 2nd degree, etc. when we speak of murder. We have “manslaughter,” and more. So of course it may well be the case that in the overwhelming majority of cases of abortion, the woman’s punishment would be greatly, and at times, even entirely, mitigated.
But here’s the rub: For “pro-lifers” to just say the woman ought never to be punished is absolutely wrong-headed. What does this say about the nature of the crime? Would we say no woman should be punished for killing her born children? Of course not! The truth is: Donald Trump was right!
But then he got It wrong.
Rather than explain his position (if he truly had a position is another question) cogently, Trump caved in to the pressure and now claims the woman having the abortion should never be punished.
An Opportunity Lost
If Donald Trump would have stuck to his guns, this could have been a great opportunity to truly move forward a pro-life argument. The argument should have focused upon the fact that we have a human being in the womb here that is being murdered. The baby is the real victim! Yes, there are cases where the woman having the abortion is also a victim. And these cases vary in kind as I mentioned above. And again, these cases and more we could talk about would mitigate the punishment that should be meted out to the woman who has had an abortion. But this would have been the perfect time to argue you don’t pass a law exonerating all murderers because some murderers have extenuating circumstances that mitigate their crimes!
Moreover, this was an opportunity to turn the table and force the pro-abortionists to explain their position on the matter. To his credit, Donald Trump did turn the table on Matthews for a few moments during the town hall, exposing his hypocrisy of claiming to be Catholic while being pro-death. But unfortunately, Trump’s inability to take a clear stand, in the end, only gave the pro-death forces fodder for their future assaults on life.
Perhaps There’s Still Time?
I should note here that I understand the fact that many pro-lifers argue women should not be punished for abortions as a political compromise in order to ensure the conversation can move forward. I get that. And I can understand the thinking. We have a culture that has become so morally confused that there may well need to be an incremental approach to returning our nation to any semblance of justice. But I believe we must always state our objective goal before introducing compromise lest the incremental step be viewed as our ultimate end.
In other words, we must state that the ultimate goal of our legal system is to enact just laws that punish people who are guilty of killing children. Our laws need to send a strong signal that violence against innocent human beings will not be tolerated. That is one very important reason why we have a legal system to begin with.
But the reason why I say it may not be too late here is this: Though Donald Trump could have handled this a little better (Euphemism alert! Euphemism alert!), just take a gander at Hillary Clinton’s interview discussing the issue of abortion when she appeared on this past Sunday morning’s edition of “Meet the Press
“. When moderator Chuck Todd asked Clinton, “When or if does an unborn child have constitutional rights?” Clinton responded:
Well, under our laws currently, that is not something that exists. The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy, to have appropriate medical support. It doesn’t mean that you don’t do everything possible to try to fulfill your obligations. But it does not include sacrificing the woman’s right to make decisions.
This radically pro-death candidate actually admitted that an unborn child is an “unborn person,” folks! But, of course, this “person” does not have constitutional rights.
Wow! Talk about a softball!
Really? So we can kill an innocent human person just because we want to? Can anybody see a problem here?
We in the pro-life movement must always remember that the last thing the pro-death camp wants is to engage in public discourse on the matter of abortion. They have no arguments. Their argument is ultimately Hillary’s. They believe women can choose to murder their pre-born babies just because they want to. And don’t you dare ask them what those reasons might be!
Oh Lord, when are we going to get a real pro-life person who is a viable candidate for President, and can actually argue the point intelligently?