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Donald Trump on Wednesday said that women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment” if the practice is banned, igniting a firestorm of protests from both Democrats and Republicans that prompted him to quickly back away from the comment, NPR reports.

The comment, made during an interview on MSNBC, comes with less than a week before the critically important Wisconsin primary where he is locked in a tight contest with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

As the furor swirled, Trump’s team sought to contain the damage and released a statement:

If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman,” read a portion of the statement from Trump.

The statement also notes that the victim in this matter is the woman and her unborn child, and he doubled down on his position by remaining pro-life “with exceptions” while comparing himself to President Ronald Reagan regarding the stance.

The release came after Trump drew predictable outrage and criticism from Democrats and their supporters, including women’s groups and pro-choice advocates. But his words also elicited stern rebukes from Trump’s two rivals on the presidential campaign trail, including Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Jeanne Mancini of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund released a statement calling Trump “out of touch” for his words, the outlet adds.

NPR notes that “While most Republican officeholders and candidates oppose abortion rights, few have publicly stated positions on whether there should be legal penalties for women who have abortions. Most believe it is the physicians who perform them who should be prosecuted.”



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