Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump, who was ‘very pro-choice’ in an interview in 1999, said on Wednesday that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who undergo abortion and that the practice should be outlawed. When MSNBC’s host asked whether women should be punished, Donald Trump answered ‘yes’. He did not clarify the form of punishment except to say that men should not be held responsible.

Don’t Make Abortion Political

After a loud outcry the Republican runner changed his stance and said that women are the victims and should the abortion be ever made illegal, doctors should be punished and not the women.

“The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions,” said Trump.

On the left side of the wing (Democrats), Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have a pro-choice approach to abortion and do not believe state or politicians should have a say in a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Clinton called Trump’s comments “horrific and telling” and Sanders said they were “shameful”.

The Republican politician also faced backlash from anti-abortion organizations and his party politicians, especially Ted Cruz who thinks Trump has not “seriously thought through the issues”.

According to a Gallup poll, 50 percent of the Americans identify with pro-choice approach but 37 percent do not think that abortion should be allowed no matter the circumstance. This is the first time in seven years that Americans are generally more pro-choice.

Abortion has always been a political issue in the United States, much more than a healthcare one. A response similar to the one witnessed now was also witnessed when FDA approved abortion pill Mifeprex for an extended use of 70 days. Lines were drawn; pro-choice and pro-life groups were formed.

Abortion was made legal in the US in 1973 by the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade, where women were allowed to get an abortion but the states could limit and regulate their access to it by creating “trigger laws” to protect women’s health and potential human life. When a woman can get an abortion is decided by the trimester she is in, according to the law. A report by CDC has shown that 91.4 percent of abortions in 2012 were performed in the first trimester and only 8.6 percent were reported in the second and third trimesters.

Currently, on the basis of Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey (1992), abortion time limit is decided on the basis of fetal viability (when fetus can survive outside of the womb).

The Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, commonly known as TRAP laws, place restrictions in certain states such as Texas in which they insist on higher building standards and doctor privileges (also in 10 other states) in the abortion clinic where abortion is being performed. There are no such laws for birthing centers in place.

In Abortion Surveillance – United States, 2012, released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was reported that legal abortion-related death rate is currently 0.00073 percent.

Since 2010, 70 abortion clinics have been forced to close down due to strict state regulations. Four of the states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi and Missouri — have only one operating abortion clinic each.

States have the authority of controlling abortions through certain other measures, such as mandatory waiting periods of up to 72 hours from the first consultation to the time of the abortion. Another approach is to make doctors, by their respective states, to go into details about the complications of abortions with the women at the time of the consultation.

A total of 208,509 abortions were reported in 2015 from all of the states in the US.