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Ayotte Pleased Trump Retracted 'Troubling' Abortion Comments

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire's top elected Republican, says women should not be punished for seeking out an abortion if it were banned.

Ayotte was weighing in on a controversy sparked Wednesday by the comments of her party's presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump.

"Women should not be punished, and I'm glad Mr. Trump has retracted his troubling comments," Ayotte said in a tweet Wednesday evening.

She was responding to a comment made by Trump during an MSNBC town hall forum with Chris Matthews that women should be subject to "some form of punishment" for having an abortion if the procedure were to be banned.

Trump quickly reserved his position, releasing a statement saying that if abortion were to be banned, "the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb."

Ayotte hasn't endorsed a candidate in the presidential race, but has stuck by her position that she will support the Republican nominee, whoever it ends up being.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat who is challenging Ayotte's re-election bid, quickly condemned Trump's comments and tried to connect them to the campaign.

"Donald Trump’s blatantly anti-women campaign is dangerous for our country, and it is extremely troubling that Senator Ayotte continues to say that she'd support Trump if he is the nominee," Hassan said in a statement. "But unfortunately, Ayotte's continued refusal to condemn Trump's candidacy is not surprising given that she and Trump are cut from the same anti-choice cloth, with Ayotte stating that Roe v. Wade should 'certainly' be overturned and repeatedly voting to defund Planned Parenthood.

This isn't the first time Ayotte has pushed back on comments made by Trump. She also took issue with his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

"I do not believe that there should be a religious test in terms of how we decide who's coming to our country," Ayotte said in December. "There needs to be a factual, risk-based assessment. We've not had a religious test for this and that certainly seems inconsistent with the First Amendment to me."

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