Both sides in abortion debate pile on Trump
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GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery MORE called the remarks "horrific and telling," while Bernie SandersBernie SandersGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay: AP MORE said they were “shameful.”

Brian Phillips, a top aide to GOP candidate Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE, said the remarks showed Trump was not truly anti-abortion.

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