Abortion, Trump, and the GOP

How any woman could support Donald Trump last week is beyond me. How any woman could support him this week after he told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that women who have abortions should be punished, is unfathomable. Even if you're in the anti-abortion camp, it can't be incarceration of women you're looking for. Or maybe it can.

"The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment," Trump said during a town hall event, after Matthews pushed him on whether a woman having an illegal abortion should be punished.

"For the woman?" Matthews asked. "Yes," Trump said. Cue Hillary Clinton ad.

You can't take that one back Mr. Trump, no matter how quickly you attempted to backpedal. I can only imagine what Melania had to say after that interview.

Trump's opponents had plenty to say. One of them released a statement that read, in part, "Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn't seriously thought through the issues, and he'll say anything to get attention."

That's Ted Cruz, the infamous Planned Parenthood hater. At a Fox News town hall in February, Cruz described the organization as a "national criminal enterprise committing multiple felonies."

And he's such a good foot soldier.

"I have been proud to fight and stand for religious liberty, to stand against Planned Parenthood, to defend life for my entire career."

Don't think John Kasich is any better. Plenty of Democrats have been lulled into believing he would be a tolerable alternative to the other two Republican candidates because of his more reasonable stand on some issues. Oh sure, he'd allow women who were victims of rape or incest to have abortions. Abortion would also be legal if their lives were in danger. He too condemned Trump's comments, telling MSNBC's Chuck Todd, "Of course women shouldn't be punished."

But take a look at his record as Governor of Ohio. He's been very busy chipping away at abortion rights, signing all of the restrictive measures that have landed on his desk including legislation preventing Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortions from receiving government money for services like cervical cancer and HIV screenings. He signed a heinous law that requires women to submit to ultrasounds before an abortion, and another that requires abortion clinics to institute formal agreements with local hospitals, making it more difficult for them to do their jobs. And that's just a sample.

Even if you're anti-abortion, you've got to acknowledge that there's always been great hypocrisy in the Republican Party regarding women's reproductive health. They don't want you to have an abortion, and they don't want you to have easy, affordable access to birth control either. Close your legs ladies, is what they're really saying.

Cruz offers a comic alternative.

Heading into the Iowa caucus, the Texas Senator said come on, if you really need birth control, there are plenty of condoms for sale out there. "When I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila! So yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them." I shudder to picture Creepy Cruz in a Princeton bathroom, sticking his sweaty quarters in coin slots.

None of this is new. We've been hearing it for years. I interviewed Marilyn Quayle back in 1988 when her husband Dan was campaigning with Bush One in the presidential election. I was a kid just out of college where premarital sex was commonplace, to say the least, and women had access to affordable birth control. But she was preaching abstinence.

You don't hear too many Republican politicians using that word anymore. But it's still sloshing around in their heads. You know what they're thinking: I don't want to fund poor women who sleep around and get their birth control and pregnancy tests from Planned Parenthood. That's not my problem. If they can't afford healthcare, they shouldn't have sex.

Republicans never think it's their problem when women have babies they can't afford to take care of. When women drop out of high school or college to be mothers, starkly lowering their odds of rising out of poverty.

I always wonder, where's the Grand Old Party then? Where is the support system for women who find themselves in such a terribly stressful and life altering situation?

It's nowhere to be found. Because that's just about when Republicans always manage to pull out. When it's much too late.