- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2016

Less than 24 hours after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said women who procure illegal abortions should be punished — a statement he later walked back — the pro-choice lobby is trying to capitalize on the unforced error.

NARAL Pro-Choice America released an advertisement titled “Piggishness” just hours after the MSNBC town hall at which Mr. Trump made the comments, splicing his remarks on abortion over sounds and images of swine.

“The answer is that, there has to be some form of punishment,” Mr. Trump says in the ad, with a banjo strumming and pigs oinking in the background.

“For the woman?” MSNBC host Chris Matthews shoots back.

“For the woman,” Mr. Trump replies.

“America, let’s stay out of the mud,” a screen at the end of the 80-second spot says. “Reject Donald Trump and his piggishness.”

Mr. Trump issued a clarification after the town hall, writing that “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.”

But pro-choice groups have long tried to cast opposition to abortion as a thinly veiled “war on women,” and Mr. Trump’s comments gave them another opening to do so.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said Mr. Trump’s plan to punish women is in lockstep with the Republican Party platform on abortion.

“A plan to punish women who seek abortion in this country is not news, it’s actually the Republican Party platform,” Ms. Laguens said Thursday on CNN. “Donald Trump just said more bluntly, as he is usual to do, that he supports the same dangerous and extreme agenda that [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz had voted on in the senate and [Ohio Gov.] John Kasich has made the law of the land in Ohio.”

After she was pushed by CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota about Mr. Trump’s retraction, Ms. Laguens said people “saw what was really in his heart by his first comment.”

“They have had an agenda to ‘punish’ women, to quote Trump, through making them drive 500 miles to get an abortion, to come three times for an appointment to take two pills, to stand outside of health centers and yell obscenities at doctors and women who go there and to stand up for that,” she continued.

Pro-life groups roundly dismissed Mr. Trump’s comments as not representative of the movement’s goals.

Mr. Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, in a statement. “Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby. Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision.

“No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion,” Ms. Mancini continued. “This is against the very nature of what we’re about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”

Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, said the pro-life movement is committed to shutting down practitioners of abortion, rather than punishing women who have received an abortion.

“The abortion industry should be shut down and any abortionist who commits abortions should be held accountable for his crimes against women and children,” Ms. Rose said. “As for the women who are facing crisis pregnancies, the focus should be on supporting them and their preborn children with with pre- and post-natal care and adoption services.”

And Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for Americans United for Life, said the pro-life movement “has always advocated that laws target the behavior of abortionists, who harm both mother and child.”

“This is true today, and it’s true in the law historically,” she said.

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