Candidate Trump on Abortion: An Analysis / by Kate Palisay

Originally shared to Facebook in July 2016, I broke down the fallacies behind then-candidate Donald Trump's approach in answering questions about abortion during his Town Hall meeting with MSNBC's Chris Matthews in March 2016.

While Donald Trump has since changed his rhetoric and said that he does not believe that women should be punished for abortion, but rather, doctors performing abortions should face legal/criminal consequences, this video does far more than expose Mr. Trump's harmful policies toward women. It shows that the Republican presidential candidate does not believe in, or perhaps even understand, the critical separation of Church and State in the United States of America. Rather than answering policy questions posed during a Town Hall by MSNBC journalist Chris Matthews, Trump turns the questions on the event's moderator, bullying him into disclosing his own stance on abortion and accusing him of betraying the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, which officially forbids abortion. This tactic of deflection has long been Trump's signature interview style, yet it fails to meet the needs of voters in attendance at this Town Hall; voters who, come November, will be choosing a candidate on a ballot that does not include Mr. Matthews.

Trump seems to believe that Matthews, as a practicing Catholic, must subscribe to the same pro-life policies adopted by his own campaign, policies that aim to make abortions illegal and punishable by law over 40 years after SCOTUS ruled on Roe v. Wade. He badgers the journalist, demanding to know how Matthews can reconcile his politics with his religion. The fact that that it is HE who is running for the highest executive office in the United States, a position wielding incredible power and influence on American government, policy, and law, and NOT Matthews, seems entirely lost on Trump. As a private citizen (employed as an anchor by a cable news network), Matthews enjoys a certain level of freedom to his opinions that public servants do not; his political opinions do not directly impact the public through government policy.

Yet Matthews exercises much greater responsibility over his opinions than does Trump, who very well could find himself in the position to exert the greatest level of political influence on our government as President of the United States come January. What Matthews understands that Trump does not, is that one can be devout while still supporting laws that protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and children. Your own personal moral opposition to abortion does NOT give you the right to police women's bodies, denying them access to safe healthcare and services. You are free to choose the outcome of your own unplanned pregnancy. You are also free to encourage adoption and offer financial support to your daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend when she becomes pregnant at the wrong time. Moreover, you may use your freedom to campaign passionately for better sex education and greater access to family planning resources. But you cannot use the law of the United States to punish all women according to your own belief system. You are not free to limit others' freedom.