Mere days after Donald Trump declared there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions — and then quickly changed his mind — another presidential hopeful is in trouble with both sides of the abortion debate. Hillary Clinton drew criticism on Monday after referring to the unborn as a “person” in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights,” she said, before adding, “that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can to help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy to have appropriate medical support.”
As might’ve been expected, both abortion-rights advocates and abortion opponents quickly seized on Clinton’s remarks. “Usually when you hear her talk it’s about the fetus,” Tina Whittington, executive vice-president of Students for Life, told the New York Times. “To acknowledge it’s a human person, a human child, to us it’s huge.” Other activists condemned her use of the word “person,” saying it implies the fetus is an “unborn child” — rhetoric the pro-choice movement opposes.
Still others pointed out that, if Clinton does see a fetus as a “person,” that person ought to have constitutional rights. “It’s interesting that Hillary has now recognized the unborn as [a] person and that she wants to deny them equal protection,” Rebecca Kiessling, a spokesperson for the abortion opposition group Personhood Alliance, told the Times. “You can’t have it both ways.”
Planned Parenthood has already endorsed Clinton, and her gaffe is fairly minor compared to Trump’s. However, the backlash serves as a reminder that abortion is a loaded, contentious issue, which will play an increasingly larger role as candidates vie for the support of female voters.