Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told CBS News this week following controversy over his remarks about abortion that “at this moment, the laws are set, and I think we have to leave it that way.”
Trump was interviewed on Friday for “Face the Nation” with John Dickerson, which is set to air on Sunday.
“What would you do to further restrict women’s access to abortion as president?” Dickerson asked.
“Well, look, I know where you’re going, and I just want to say, a question was asked to me and it was asked in a very hypothetical [way]. It said illegal,'” Trump said. “I’ve been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on a, you know, basis of an older line from years ago on a very conservative basis.”
Trump was referring to an interview earlier this week with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in which he was asked if he believed abortion should be criminalized.
“Do you believe in punishment for abortion—yes or no—as a principle?” Matthews inquired.
“The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” Trump replied.
“For the woman?” Matthews asked.
“Yeah, there has to be some form,” Trump stated.
“Ten cents, 10 years, what?” Matthews inquired in seeking to obtain specifics.
“That I don’t know,” Trump said.
Trump’s remarks received both support and opposition, with some applauding the idea and others denouncing it. He later released a statement of clarification, advising that he doesn’t believe the mother should be punished; only the abortionist.
Dickerson’s question was a follow-up to those remarks.
“I was asked hypothetically,” Trump told Dickerson. “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed.”
“You had told Bloomberg in January that you believe abortion should be banned in some pregnancies,” Dickerson replied. “Where would you like to see a ban…?”
“Well first of all, I would’ve preferred states’ rights,” he added. “I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set. And that’s the way the laws are.”
“But do you have a feeling on how they should change?” Dickerson asked. “There are a lot of laws you wan to change. You’ve talked about them—everything from libel to abortion. Anything you’d want to change on abortion?”
“At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way,” Trump replied.
“Do you think it’s murder—abortion?” Dickerson then inquired.
“I have my opinions on it, but I’d rather not comment on it,” Trump replied.
“You said you were very pro-life,” Dickerson stated. “Pro-life means that abortion is murder.”
“I mean, I do have my opinions on it,” Trump replied. “I just don’t think it’s an appropriate forum.”
“But you don’t disagree with that proposition, that it’s murder?” Dickerson asked.
“No, I don’t disagree with it,” Trump said.
Following the release of footage from the interview and subsequent reports that Trump had seemingly walked back his remarks even further, his campaign released a statement asserting that what Trump really meant was that abortion laws need to stay the same until he is elected.
“Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now—until he is president,” spokesperson Hope Hicks told reporters. “Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn.”
“There is nothing new or different here,” she contended.