Criminalize Abortion

The Pro-Life Delusion Exposed by Donald Trump (Argument 4 of 4)

Evangelicalism’s Abortion Inconsistencies: Guest Post by Pastor David Morris, Grace Church of the Valley

Here is the forth of four main arguments from pro-lifers explaining why women shouldn’t be punished for having an abortion even if it’s illegal. To understand the full context please read first argument here.

Argument 4. Women are victims in an abortion; therefore they shouldn’t be punished.

The final and perhaps most repeated argument urges us to avoid punishing women because
they are the victims in an abortion. This assertion is made because of the assumption that
women who have an abortion don’t actually want one, but are instead coerced, forced,
manipulated, or in other ways duped into having one. And there is no doubt that many pregnant
women, from the teenage girls to the secret mistresses, are fed immense pressure to get an
abortion. They get it from boyfriends, from their pimps, from a society that says an abortion is
just a medical procedure, from their selfish hearts that say escape the consequences of your
sin, from the fear of poverty or of a changed lifestyle. But does any of that pressure really mean
women are victims of abortion?

The victim card is one of our most powerful modern day trump cards. Invoke the power of
“victim” and anyone who disagrees with you is forced to surrender their arguments and
genuflect before your suffering. After all, if you’re a victim the last thing society should do is add
to your misery and undeserved treatment.
Lopez wrote, ““Women don’t need punishment. They
need compassion and support in processing what was a miserable and possibly coerced
decision.” Even more strongly, Lopez emphasized ““To treat them as equally culpable with the
professional abortionist is ludicrous and heartless.”

“Ludicrous” and “heartless.” Pretty powerful words, but are they true? Is it really so challenging
to reason that a woman who willingly asks someone to kill her baby is just as culpable as the
person who does it?
And if you can’t get all the way to “equally culpable,” can we at least agree
she is “somewhat culpable”? The woman did, after all, have a part in the sex that created the
baby. She did get to an abortion clinic somehow, did sign numerous consent forms somehow,
did make a “choice.”

In her Washington Post article, pro-choice writer Ruth Marcus laments that pro-lifers paint
women who have an abortion as mentally unsound and hence not responsible for their
decisions. It’s not just feminists who should have a problem with such a view of women. It’s
Bible believers who teach the depravity of humanity, of personal responsibility, and of a coming
judgement day for every individual.

Marcus makes a lot of sense in her article when she punctures the inconsistencies of the
exception clauses. “Indeed, if the fetus has a ‘fundamental individual right to life,’ why should it
matter in any way how the pregnancy came into being? Either abortion is the taking of a human
life — that is, murder — in which case it should not be permitted, or it isn’t. (To be clear, I’m in
the it-isn’t-murder camp.)”
She goes on to point out how last five Republican presidential
nominees supported exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother because anything
else is out of step with the majority of voters. She insightfully probes, “Surely no prosecutor
would fail to bring charges against a mother who murdered her newborn child. If the fetus is in
the same legal position as a child, why not charge the mother?”

Yet Denny Burk linked to Marcus’s article and blamed Trump for the “specious” attacks now
coming against pro-lifers. It’s pretty ironic to me that Marcus seems to grasp a more consistent
pro-life position than many pro-lifers, despite the fact that she opposes it.

Underneath all these arguments, it’s hard not to have a sneaking suspicion that what pro-lifers
really mean to say is, “There’s no way people can handle us saying women should be punished;
therefore they shouldn’t be punished. It’s incredibly politically incorrect to say women should be
punished; therefore they shouldn’t be. People who think abortion is fine won’t like us saying
women should be punished; therefore they shouldn’t be. We can’t get people to think abortion is
wrong let alone criminal; therefore we shouldn’t even entertain the idea that women should be
We look like kooks already; therefore women shouldn’t be punished.”

In the end, and despite my complete disdain for Donald Trump as a politician in the Republican
Party, what he said wasn’t really all that far-fetched. He dared to suggest “some sort of
punishment” for women who got an abortion if it were illegal.
Not exactly Draconian extremism
to say “some sort,” and not really all that morally outrageous to say that people who break the
law should be punished by that law. In the end, perhaps all pro-lifers should face the facts. Do
we really mean it when we say abortion is murder? Don’t tell me what is politically expedient, or
what feels good to hurting people, or what makes us look best to a world fine with abortion. Tell
me what is right in the sight of God. And if it’s morally wrong to abort a baby, I’m all for
governmental laws reflecting God’s as much as possible.

In his argument against punishing women, Robby George wrote, “We are interested in saving
babies, not punishing mothers. And we know that we don’t need to punish mothers to save
babies.” With respect, that first sentence is called a false dichotomy. And as for the second? No,
Robby, we don’t know that we don’t need to punish mothers to save babies. Just look at the
numbers to see how many millions of mothers have already killed their babies.

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