Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I've never really thought about it...

When it comes to figuring out ways to end abortion in this nation, much of the talk centers around the strategies and tactics that will bring about an end to the practice. But is that really where the focus ought to lie?

There is a video circulating amongst the creepy, uber-liberal blogs. It features a pragmatic-sounding dude asking abortion demonstrators what they think should happen to a woman who has an abortion if, in fact, abortion becomes illegal.

This is an inherently unfair question of course. If they answer "life in prison" they seem heartless and cold. If they say "nothing" or "I dunno," the interviewer gets his "A-ha!" moment... Anyone on the right could go to a pro-abortion rally and ask a woman if they think an abortion takes a life. Same deal. If they answer "no", they seem cold and heartless. If they answer "yes", then they can be pressed as to why they support murder.

All of them try to shirk the question with a cringingly equivocal response. No good...

In my view, this sort of mutual doublespeak favors the pro-choice side immensely. When pro-life causes aim to soften the blow by avoiding the issue, and crafting inane billboards with cute babies, they play into the hands of the left-wing demagogues who protect the legality of this act.

Those who are pro-life needn't punt on this issue. If you favor an abortion ban, it is intellectually consonant to support prison sentences for those who commit the act (in this case, doctors and would be mothers). The nuanced answer to the interviewer's question is to say that we would need to ascertain a punishment that suitably deters women from committing the crime. By deterring women from committing abortion, we are saving lives, and protecting women from putting themselves into the lonely and dangerous corners that result from abortion.

The pro-choice side of this issue benefits from the removal of facts. The public at large believes that the reversal of Roe V. Wade would entail the banning of abortion. Very few know the percentage of abortions that arise from rape or incest (a hint: it would not be difficult to conceive a situation in which that number be rounded to zero). Most people are floored that more than 1 million abortions happen every year. People have no idea what partial birth abortion is, an ignorance aided by the media's reference to the act as "so-called partial birth abortion", as though there is another prevailing description of the procedure that is more often accepted.

It is my opinion, and a number of Conservatives disagree with me on this, that we need the most honest debate possible. If pro-abortion types want to hold a referendum in South Dakota, so be it. If they want to take it to the courts (and they will almost invariably opt for this option) that is fine. The more people are forced to weigh the merits of either side of this issue, the more people are forced to pull levers for or against legal aborton the better the likelihood that abortion is eventually outlawed. The more this issue dominates the headlines, the better. Nobody wants blood on their hands, which is why Roe v. Wade is such an effective tool for pro-choice causes.

If someone asks me what the punishment should be for abortion should be going forward, I'd say prison. Prison for the woman, for the doctor, for any man who refuses to pay child support. To disagree is the very definition of being pro-choice, so we might as well say what we mean, and stand up for what is right.

In the end, that will be the most successful strategy of all.

12 Comments:

Blogger mrs. r said...

prison seems a very logical choice for punishment of abortion. If the general pro-life stance is that abortion is murder, then we should charge and try the people who participate in them that way if the act were illegal.
Abortion has never been illegal in my lifetime, so it's almost hard to believe that Roe v. Wade could ever be overturned, but if there's a chance, I think it's worth fighting for it, maybe a change in tactics could indeed be the way to go.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Thom said...

One thing to keep in mind, overturning Roe Vs Wade doesn't make medical abortions illegal. All it does is give the decision to the states. So, what is most likely if it's overturned is that some states will keep it legal. Some will have it legal but with more restrictions and some will ban it outright.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Thom,

That is why Roe v. Wade must first be overturned, and why it is so helpful to pro-choice causes. They can reduce the public's complicated views on the matter to a "for it or against it" proposition. Most people would support he right of states to make individual laws on the matter, and have no idea that Roe v. Wade prohibits this.

If it is overturned, I think each state would take incremental steps to restrict the practice, to varying degrees depending on state.

1:06 PM  
Blogger haynes said...

Rove v. Wade technically only restricts the decision surrounding first trimester abortions. States can still make second or third trimester abortions illegal. Just not first trimester. If i'm not mistaken. But still...

8:42 PM  
Blogger haynes said...

Roe* of course.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Haynes,

You are correct w/r/t Roe v. Wade, technically speaking. However, Roe v. Wade has later been confirmed to apply to abortions in any trimester. Of course, Planned Parenthood doesn't want you to know that, as it might be deleterious to their financial ambitions.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Jerad said...

I will gladly join in supporting programs that empower women out of abusive relationships, deter unprotected sex, reduce teen pregnancy, strengthen laws calling absent fathers to account, and reassure women that if they choose to go through with a pregnancy they will NOT be alone in caring for their child.

But what takes me off the fence re: legality is the punishment. I was a church youth director for a number of years. One summer a former youth came to me and confessed that she'd had an abortion--her boyfriend threatened abuse if she kept it, her father (she was certain based on empirical evidence) would have abused her if he'd known she was pregnant.

Under a law that made it illegal, I would have had to turn her in and she'd have been sent to jail. If I didn't turn her in she may still have been found out, and we both might be sent to jail (me for being accessory, or aiding and abetting, or whatever it's called when you don't turn 'em in.)

Fortunately her decision is legal and I was able to plug her into a group of Christian women who'd shared similar experiences. This offered her a path through confession and repentance to forgiveness and abundance (and better decision-making in relationships). She was loved unceasingly by her community.

The odds of incarceration achieving a similar result are improbable. I find more grace in the status quo than in criminalization.

[You might enjoy this theological refletion on abortion by Stanley Hauerwas. He's pro-life and has a great frame.]

1:50 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Shorter answer:

Replace abortion in your anecdote with "dropped my baby off in a dumpster".
You are still left to jump through impossible ethical and rhetorical hoops to explain why those two actions are not the same.

Longer answer:

Well, re: legality, if a father abuses his daughter, he goes to prison. If a boyfriend threatens same, ditto. If abortion is illegal, then the conspiracy to commit same can carry prison time. If the conspiracy is enforced with abuse, then we can make it a 15-25 scenario.

If the complaint is that our society does not do enough to empower women, I'd gladly accompany abortion legislation with brutal, borderline-draconian punishment for deadbeat dads, abuse boyfriends, et al...

But then, of course, we'd get former abusive boyfriends regaling youth pastors with their stories, and we want to foster grace and such, so, yes, let's keep the status quo.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

I read the sermon. It was notable for this statement.

"No fourteen-year-old, unattractive women--who is not part of the social clique of a high school, who is suddenly dated by some male, who falls all over herself with the need for approval, and who ends up in bed with him--can be said to have had anything other than rape happen to her."

Yikes!

1:25 AM  
Blogger Jerad said...

I think it's comments like your previous one that Hauerwas was getting at: The comparison of a battered woman aborting to an abusive boyfriend beating. They are not moral equivalents. While the battered woman faces violence, poverty, and years on foodstamps and in shelters and maybe collecting welfare (until Repubs cut the rest of the funding for those) as pressures to abort, the abusive boyfriend has at best a peer group or low self-esteem as pressures to abuse.

What is notable from Hauerwas' sermon is not an out-of-context example, but that he moves away from the popular idea in abortion criminalization that the debate is Women vs. Babies and moves toward a Christ-centered frame that embraces both as populations Christ prefers. We have failed both communities and need to support them together.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Jerad said...

I think it's comments like your previous one that Hauerwas was getting at: The comparison of a battered woman aborting to an abusive boyfriend beating. They are not moral equivalents. While the battered woman faces violence, poverty, and years on foodstamps and in shelters and maybe collecting welfare (until Repubs cut the rest of the funding for those) as pressures to abort, the abusive boyfriend has at best a peer group or low self-esteem as pressures to abuse.

What is notable from Hauerwas' sermon is not an out-of-context example, but that he moves away from the popular idea in abortion criminalization that the debate is Women vs. Babies and moves toward a Christ-centered frame that embraces both as populations Christ prefers. We have failed both communities and need to support them together.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

I don't think the example is out of context. It symptomatic of a mindset that automatically casts the woman as a victim, regardless of the scenario. At what age does sex with an "unattractive woman" cease to be rape? 15? 16? 17? 18? 19? 20? At the age of 21, do women cease to fulfill inner-longings via sexual channels? If any woman who has sex is raped, then how can we hold them accountable for anything, much less abortion? If you believe that we live in a society entirely composed of raped women, then you can never see the purpose of banning abortion.

The point is that we can find all sorts of anecdotes and explanations to justify awful behavior. What if the boyfriend was himself abused (or, worse, raped?). Do we excuse his behavior in the legal sense in hopes of offering grace? The difference between boyfriend beating and woman aborting is perceptual, not Biblical (God abhors both). Both are forgiven, and both behaviors can be mitigated by Christ's love.

The difficulty with the anecdotal type argument is that, in this case, it is entirely unfair. Babies can't talk, much less fetuses. They don't have backstories, or track records of exhibiting societally-acceptable behavior. Nonetheless, we have an ethical respnsibility to assign value to the child or we are not obeying our moral responsibility.

10:15 AM  

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