Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was caught up in controversy yet again after saying that women who end a pregnancy should be punished if the US made abortions illegal. The remarks invited criticisms from both sides of the illegal abortions debate, which caused Trump to go back on his comments and blame the doctors instead.

The initial comment was made during an interview on MSNBC. The billionaire first said that the states should handle the issue of abortion and then corrected himself saying, it is the doctors who should be held responsible for abortions.

“The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman,” the Reuters quoted Trump as saying in his last statement. “The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.

Abortion was made legal in the United States in 1973 by a Supreme Court ruling, and the GOP frontrunner supports a ban on abortion, with certain exceptions. But, his initial comments drew heavy criticisms from both the supporters as well as opponents of the abortion rights alike.

Abortion can only be made illegal either by a high court ruling or a constitutional amendment to the Roe v Wade. Trump, once supported the abortions rights and was criticised for that.

Republicans are officially against abortion and contends it should be made illegal. Activists and conservative politicians, who consider abortion equivalent to murder, do not decriminalise the women undergoing an abortion and instead hold the doctors responsible.

The reason behind such a stance is simple. It is to make general public accept abortion as illegal without having to see possibly distraught women with unwanted pregnancies dealing with prison terms.

However, Trump’s initial comments o illegal abortions were condemned by some anti-abortion rights groups as extreme.

“Mr Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” the BBC quoted Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, as saying. “No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion.”