ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 05: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the CFE Arena during a campaign stop on the campus of the University of Central Florida on March 5, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Primary voters head to the polls on March 15th in Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Raedle
Photo: Joe Raedle

Trump: Abortion laws 'are set and I think we have to leave it that way'

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump appeared to reverse his stance on banning abortion in an interview Friday with CBS News' "Face the Nation" just two days after making controversial comments on the subject during an interview with MSNBC.

"There has to be some form of punishment" for women who choose to get abortions if the practice is banned in the U.S., Trump said Wednesday in a pre-taped town hall segment for MSNBC.

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The comments stoked criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike and appeared to further Trump's perceived issues with courting women voters.

In a statement released Wednesday, Trump later said any person who carries out an abortion -- and not the woman getting the procedure -- should face punishment.

His views appeared to change again Friday when, in an interview with "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson, Trump said abortion laws should not be changed.

"The laws are set now on abortion and that's the way they're going to remain until they're changed," he said. "At this moment, the laws are set and I think we have to leave it that way."

Several times, Trump emphasized that his comments Wednesday were in response to a hypothetical situation. Instead of banning abortion on the federal level, Trump said he hoped to see the issue became one decided by the states.

After the comments were made public, however, Trump campaign communications manager Hope Hicks released a statement to CBS News saying the GOP front-runner's comments applied to the current situation only.

"Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now -- until he is president," the statement said. "Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here."

In recent weeks, Trump has dealt with heavy criticism of his treatment of women and stances on women's issues. He has faced pushback for an ongoing feud with Republican rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over their wives.

On Tuesday, police arrested Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after video surfaced of him grabbing a woman reporting for the conservative Breitbart News Service during a new conference in Jupiter, Florida. Trump has stood by Lewandowski, who has denied any wrongdoing.

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