Donald Trump has done what seemed impos­sible: He made the pro-life and pro-choice move­ments agree on some­thing.

This week, his comment that there “has to be some form of pun­ishment” for women who have abor­tions has earned him the con­dem­nation of both the pro-life and pro-choice move­ments. His state­ments on abortion may not make him a misog­ynist villain. They do, however, make him an imprudent and bad rep­re­sen­tative of the pro-life movement.

Michael McGough pub­lished an article in the Los Angeles Times last week, “Trump’s abortion ‘gaffe’ exposed an anti-abortion con­tra­diction.” In it, he argued that pro-lifers cannot both believe that abortion is wrong and that women who have abor­tions should not be pun­ished. He writes, “If abortion is murder — or the moral equiv­alent thereof — it’s absurd to suggest that only the doctor who per­forms an abortion should be crim­i­nally respon­sible.”

The pro-life stance on abortion and pun­ish­ments, however, does not produce a con­tra­diction; rather, it presents a tension that requires careful con­sid­er­ation. McGough is right insofar as abortion is morally equiv­alent to murder, but coming to the con­clusion that it should be pun­ished as such reveals a shallow under­standing of the purpose of pun­ish­ments. While McGough con­cludes that “Trump was on solid logical ground,” his own line of rea­soning, as well as Trump’s, dis­re­gards con­sid­er­a­tions of pru­dence and justice when it comes to pun­ishing crimes.

In Trump’s defense, I do not think it is obvious that pun­ish­ments for abor­tions are wrong. Nor does the pro-life movement spend a lot of time detailing what the country would look like if abortion were illegal. Indeed, there should be support for women who feel like they cannot provide for a child and encour­agement for them to pursue adoption instead; but should women not be held legally respon­sible at all if they were to procure an abortion? Maybe, but that con­clusion is far from evident.

From a liberal per­spective, McGough argues it is pater­nal­istic to assume women “are pawns of pre­sumably male doctors with no control over their own actions” and “ought to be immune to pun­ishment” for ini­ti­ating an abortion if it were illegal. On this point, I largely agree with McGough. Women are just as much morally respon­sible for their actions as men.

On the issue of abortion, however, moti­va­tions for abor­tions vary greatly between women and should be taken into account. It is as inac­curate to see all women who have had abor­tions as self-cen­tered as it is to see them all as victims. Under­standing that there is a large dis­parity between getting an abortion out of des­per­ation or out con­ve­nience makes it dif­ficult to treat them the same. This factor alone makes admin­is­tering pun­ish­ments dif­ficult in light of the purpose of pun­ish­ments.

In order to be just, a pun­ishment for crime must serve the purpose of pre­venting the crime from hap­pening again in the future. In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes explains that “all evil which is inflicted without …pos­si­bility of dis­posing the delin­quent (or, by his example, other men) to obey the laws is not pun­ishment, but an act of hos­tility.”

So would some kind of pun­ishment deter women from having more abor­tions? I argue no, because if abortion were already illegal, a woman des­perate enough to pursue one would be unlikely to be deterred if she thought she could get away with it. Limited access to an abor­tionist, however, would make it dif­ficult enough to make adoption a better choice.

On the other hand, pun­ishing those who perform abor­tions, which was Trump’s clar­i­fi­cation, would be very useful in pre­venting abor­tions. The doctors do not have the same con­cerns as the pregnant women, so the incentive to provide an abortion would be reduced sig­nif­i­cantly. While some may still be willing to perform an abortion, pun­ish­ments could sig­nif­i­cantly reduce the supply of abor­tionists.

To be clear, I do not support pun­ish­ments for women who have had abor­tions, but I also will not vilify Trump for not being pre­pared for a highly hypo­thetical question. Clearly, his answer and his stance on abortion were not well thought out; but this makes him a bad rep­re­sen­tative of the pro-life movement, not the patri­archy incarnate.

Nev­er­theless, while he attempted to clarify his position, the rhetorical damage has been done. The pro-life movement needs a dif­ferent can­didate, one who can artic­ulate our prin­ciples and advance the cause against abortion.