While Donald Trump has been getting a lot of scrutiny for his statement that he would approve of some form of "punishment" for women who obtain abortions, it's equally noteworthy to point out that during the same town hall discussion on the abortion question, MSNBC host Chris Matthews denounced as "fascistic" the regulation of abortion.
Matthews, a cradle Catholic and longtime liberal Democrat, insisted that while he has a moral objection to abortion and he accepts the moral authority of the teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter, that when it comes to the politics of abortion and its place in the law, that's a different matter.
"I think it's a woman's choice," Matthews told Trump.
"So you're against the teachings of your church?" Trump asked.
"I, I believe – I have a view, and a moral view, but I believe we live in a free country, and I don't want to live in a country so fascistic that it can stop a person from making that decision," Matthews answered, adding, "That would be so invasive, so determined [sic; he meant "detrimental"?] of a society, that I wouldn't be familiar with, and Donald Trump, you wouldn't be familiar with a society like that."
So, it seems, to Matthews and countless liberals like him, forbidding the taking of an unborn human life is "fascistic" and invasive, but requiring every American under penalty of law to buy health insurance or face a fine – and/or jail time, eventually – is a perfectly legitimate exercise of the federal government's power, not "fascistic" or invasive of the privacy of the individual in the least. Or, for instance, on gun rights, where they insist that all kinds of tighter restrictions on gun purchases in no way infringe on the Second Amendment liberties of Americans.
Now, to be fair, Matthews was reacting to Trump's saying he's open to some form of criminal penalty for women who would have abortions, so it is possible Matthews merely meant that that sort of policy set forth in law and enforced by law enforcement officials would be "fascistic."
Of course, for what it's worth, perhaps Chris over the years has been influenced by his wife Kathleen, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District in Maryland on a very socially liberal platform, including abortion rights. Indeed, she's received the ringing endorsement of hard-core pro-abortion rights groups like the political action committee EMILY's List.
Here's Kathleen Matthews's stance on the issue, verbatim from her campaign website. You'll notice she seems to leave no room for allowing any form of regulation of abortion whatsoever:
I am a strong pro-choice Democrat who believes that women must have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions.
The landmark decision of Roe v. Wade ensured that women have the right to decide what happens to their bodies free from governmental legislation. The right for a woman to an abortion is a personal decision that should only be made by the woman through consultation with her friends, family, and medical professionals.
Sadly, numerous legislators disagree with this view and continually attempt to limit a woman’s right to choose. In Congress, I will fight against any effort that comes between a woman and her doctor and argue for strong national legislation to protect a women’s right to choose and equal access to the healthcare services she needs.
She will "fight against any effort" to restrict or regulate abortion and will push for "equal access" to "healthcare services," a clever, fuzzy way of hinting support for taxpayer-funded abortion. After all, how else could a woman who can't afford to pay for her own abortion have "equal access" to the "healthcare services she needs"?
Updated with transcript below (3:37 p.m. Eastern, March 31, 2016):
March 30, 2016; 8:35 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You said you’re pro-life.
DONALD TRUMP: I am pro-life.
MATTHEWS: That means banning abortion.
TRUMP: And so is the Catholic Church pro-life.
MATTHEWS: But they don’t control the cou- this isn’t Spain, we don’t control, the Church doesn’t control the government.
TRUMP: What is the punishment [for abortion] under the Catholic Church? What is the punishment?
MATTHEWS: Let me give you something from the New Testament: “Render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Don’t ask me about my religion. I’m asking you. You want to be president of the United States. You tell me what the law should be. Just tell me what the law should be. You say you’re pro-life.
MATTHEWS: Here’s my problem with this: If you don’t have a punishment for abortion – I don't believe in it, of course – people are going to find a way to have an abortion.
TRUMP: You don’t believe in what? You don’t believe in what?
MATTHEWS: I don’t believe in punishing anybody for having an abortion.
TRUMP: OK, fine, OK, that’s fine.
MATTHEWS: Of course not, I think it’s a woman’s choice.
TRUMP: So you’re against the teachings of your church.
MATTHEWS: I believe – I have a view, and a moral view, but I believe we live in a free country. And I don't want to live in a country so fascistic that it can stop a person from making that decision. That would be so invasive, so determinative [sic] of a society that I wouldn’t be familiar with, and, Donald Trump, you wouldn't be familiar with a society like that.
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