Donald Trump’s comments today that there has to be “some form of punishment” for a woman having an abortion upsets years of Pro-Life orthodoxy meant to maintain the delicate tension between a politically palatable policy and one capable of defending the most unborn lives.
In truth, like the notion that there should be exceptions for rape and incest, the notion that only the abortion doctor (not the woman having the abortion) should face penalties, is inconsistent with the notion that “abortion is murder.”
Yet these political compromises are necessary in order to cobble together a palatable and defensible (if admittedly inconsistent) public policy position that might someday actually be able to win the argument in mainstream America.
Part of the goal is to remove the ability for pro-choicers to demagogue the issue by scaring vulnerable women. Now, thanks to Trump, that’s back on the table.
Not only does Trump’s newly stated position risk upsetting years of work the Pro-Life community has put into crafting a position that is as widely popular as possible, it also hands Hillary Clinton a cudgel to bash Trump (and conservatives).
Hillary can now demagogue the issue, telling women that “Not only do Republicans want to force you into a dark alley, but they also want to put vulnerable women in jail, too.” Trump has proven immune to Republican attacks, but one gets the sense that this could later become a “Todd Akin” moment, at least, if he’s the nominee.
In a week when news of his attacks on Heidi Cruz and Michelle Fields have dominated headlines, Donald Trump’s latest move might widen the gender gap more than anything else he’s done.
If Trump didn’t exist, Democrats would have to invent him.