Trump backpedals on punishing women for abortion after conservative backlash
Donald Trump speaks to supporters (a katz /

In the space of just a few hours, Donald Trump has done a serious about-face after a serious controversy.

After Trump said in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC that once abortion is outlawed, "there has to be some form of punishment" for a woman who gets one, his GOP rivals John Kasich and Ted Cruz disagreed. (Though neither of those two campaigns were able to explain exactly why not.)

But more crucially, other pro-life and conservative activists began objecting quite vociferously. So Trump released a statement late Wednesday afternoon. And this time, he's giving them the answer they actually wanted to hear.

"If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman," Trump said in the statement. "The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions."

Here is Trump's original statement on video — showing quite clearly just how his position has changed in the space of an afternoon.

Here are just a few reports of the pushback from conservatives against Trump's talk about punishing women: