Women who have abortions should be punished if the practice were illegal, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said on Wednesday, before retracting his claim amid an outcry.

Trump, who has held opposing positions on the abortion in the past, said women should receive “some form of punishment” if it were banned in the US. He was unable to say whether he believed the punishment should be a small fine or a long prison sentence.

The remarks prompted an outcry from all quarters, and once again underscored his poor approval ratings among women. The Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, decribed the comments as “horrific and telling”. Anti-abortion campaigners, who focus their efforts on punishing those who carry out abortions, distanced themselves from the remarks.

Amid the storm, Trump issued a swift clarification of the comments. His position “had not changed”, he said, despite going on to fully recant the earlier statements he made to interviewer Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

The latest Trump conflagration began during the taping of a town hall event, when Matthews asked him to define his “pro-life” stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

“Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle,” asked Matthews.

“The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” said Trump.

“For the woman?” Matthews said.

“Yeah, there has to be some form,” Trump replied.

“Ten cents, 10 years, what,” Matthews asked again, pressing.

“That I don’t know,” said Trump.

Source: Donald Trump retracts call for women who have abortions to be ‘punished’ | US news | The Guardian