Trump makes new comments on abortion: ‘The laws are set’

Days after evoking a firestorm of criticism for his comments on abortion, Donald Trump said in an upcoming interview that federal law keeping abortions legal should remain in place.

“At this moment the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way,” Trump told CBS’ “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson in an interview that will air Sunday.

Andrea Mitchell Reports, 3/31/16, 12:21 PM ET

Trump abortion statement spurs outrage

Former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Kasich supporter Vin Weber talk to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell about Donald Trump’s abortion and NATO comments. They also discuss the possibility for a Republican convention fight.
“The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed,” Trump said at another point in the interview.

Hours after the excerpt of the new interview was released, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks tried to tamp down any suggestion that his comments amounted to a reversal.

“Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now–until he is President,” Hicks said. “Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.”

Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Wednesday that he thinks abortion should be illegal, and responded to a hypothetical question that women who broke a law banning abortions should be punished. Trump and the campaign quickly backtracked, and said doctors would be punished if abortions were illegal, not women.

RELATED: Women are already being prosecuted for having abortions 

Asked about a ban in the interview airing Sunday, Trump said, “I would’ve preferred states’ rights. I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the states. But right now, the laws are set. And that’s the way the laws are.”

The next president could choose the next nominee to the Supreme Court. At a March 21 press conference, Trump hedged on if he would use abortion as a litmus test, saying “yeah” followed by “we’re gonna look at that. We’re gonna look — it’s gonna be pro-life.”

Trump, who earlier in his life said he supported abortion rights, explained to CBS his answer on punishing women by emphasizing the question was a hypothetical scenario. He suggested that the answer about punishing women was from a older school of thought.

“A question was asked to me. And it was asked in a very hypothetical. And it was said, ‘Illegal, illegal,’” Trump said. “I’ve been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on a, you know, basis of an older line from years ago on a very conservative basis.”

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Trump makes new comments on abortion: 'The laws are set'