Both sides in abortion debate pile on Trump
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GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE outraged groups on both sides of the abortion debate Wednesday when he said women who undergo illegal abortions should be punished.

Trump told MSNBC's Christ Matthews that there should be "some form of punishment" for women who got abortions if they were banned.

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“As a convert to the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump sees the reality of the horror of abortion — the destruction of an innocent human life — which is legal in our country up until the moment of birth,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, in a statement.

“But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”

Anti-abortion activists have long called for the person performing an abortion to be punished, not the woman undergoing the procedure.

March for Life, which holds an annual rally in Washington protesting abortion, also spoke out against Trump’s remarks, calling him “out of touch” with the anti-abortion movement.

“Mr. Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, in a statement.

“No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about,” Mancini said. “We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”

Trump later sought to clarify his initial remarks, saying if Congress were to pass legislation banning abortion, only doctors performing the procedure should be held legally responsible.

But he also received criticism from pro-abortion rights groups.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund called Trump “flat-out dangerous” for women.

“Women’s lives are not disposable. There’s nothing else to say, as Donald Trump’s remarks today have said it all,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement.

Trump's comments also drew criticism from presidential rivals in both parties. On the Democratic side, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE called the remarks "horrific and telling," while Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE said they were “shameful.”

Brian Phillips, a top aide to GOP candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE, said the remarks showed Trump was not truly anti-abortion.

John Kasich added “of course women shouldn’t be punished” for having abortions.