Pro-abortionists have a particular question they like to throw out at pro-lifers. Like the Pharisees trying to trip up Jesus, they think this question particularly clever and creates an impossible dilemma.
My recent interlocutor, the pro-abortion terrorist and demonaic who goes by “Operation Counterstrike”, prides itself on its website for supposedly “confounding” pro-lifer bloggers with this question. Although I answered the question on its blog, and the direct question never came up here in our lengthy exchange, this person (whom I strongly suspect has gender identity issues, given that its rhetoric sounds like NOW but seems to avoid the personal identification with abortion that radical feminists have) tried to say that I put its comments under moderation because of my inability to confront that question.
No, I put its comments under moderation because a) the arguments were getting circular and unprogressive and b) the person insisted on using language that was both rude and crude, as well as personally attacking my friends. This individual needs to learn about a modicum of civil discourse.
Anyway, the question goes like this:
“If abortion is made illegal, and you consider abortion to be murder, what should happen to the women who have abortions?”
They see this is an an “aha!” question, exposing us for either being hypocrites or for “not really thinking abortion is murder.”
The paradox, they think, goes this way:
1. If you think they should be punished as murderers, they’ll call you “unreasonable.”
2. If you say they shouldn’t, they say, “Then you don’t really think abortion is murder.”
Of course, these are the kinds of people, especially the CounterStrike person, who think that people like Scott Roeder, Paul Hill and John Salvi are the only consistent anti-abortionists. According to their logic, a) if you believe abortion is murder, then b) the only way to punish a murderer is to c) kill him/her in an act of vigilantism. Otherwise, you’re a liar and/or hypocrite in that a) you don’t “really” believe abortion is “murder” or b) you’re not “really” pro-life.
Of course, they set up the false dichotomy in that, case they set up the false dichotomy in this one, too.
Yes, the question does pose a paradox for certain kinds of Republicans and conservatives, but it shouldn’t pose a paradox for a Christian, or certainly any person with an understanding of psychology or legal responsibility.
There is a difference between the objective nature of an act and the subjective culpability of the actor. When a teenaged girl has an abortion, is she really culpable? Does she know abortion is murder? Does she know the unborn child is a person? (Not if the pro-aborts have anything to say about it; they do everything in their power to fight informed consent, waiting periods and sonogram laws–they know most women would reject abortion if shown this information). Are they really making the “free choice” that pro-aborts allege? Or are they pressured by family, society, money, etc.? What is their mental state?
Is a girl who has an abortion fully morally culpable for what she does?
Now, this is quite different from, say, some upper middle class white woman who gets an abortion to avoid the stretch marks or pursue her career or something.
Interestingly, Patrick Madrid has been involved in a parallel exchange from the other end, on his Facebook page, radio show and blog, in which a pro-life advocate apparently took a fairly hardline stance with some women who had repented of past abortions, insisting they were still “murderers”.
Of course, objectively, the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer,” but that leads to two issues: 1) her aforementioned culpability and b) her intention of repeating the crime.
A person who copies and pastes a bunch of paragraphs out of Wikipedia and Cliff’s Notes is, objectively, a plagiarist. However, a good teacher knows how to distinguish unintentional acts of plagiarism from intentional academic theft. Sometimes, especially in this example, the student just doesn’t know how to cite or how to write a proper research paper, and thinks the copied and pasted paragraphs constitute “research.”
So, let’s say the teacher decides to give the student a second chance, or that a student who was expelled from one institution for plagiarism gets admitted to another. In either case, our plagiarist has learned his or her lesson. He or she remains a plagiarist, but the question is: will he or she *continue* to commit plagiarism?
Inspector Javert chases Jean Valjean for years because he thinks that one act of theft should mark a man for life.
Christians technically believe in repentance and forgiveness. The pro-life movement is an embodiment of this. Many of our leaders have themselves been directly involved in abortion in the worst ways: Norma McCorvey, Sandra Cano, Bernard Nathanson, John Bruchalski and so many others have come to the pro-life cause after repenting of their involvement in abortion, whether it was their own abortions, abortion practices, or political/legal work.
Yes, we want to see abortion illegal so that it is stigmatized, and society can heal from the rift in Natural Law caused by legalized abortion. Yes, we want to save babies’ lives. Yes, those who are consciously and deliberately involved in abortion–and unrepentant–should be punished for it.
Those who lack full moral responsibility, however, should be given clemency and understanding. Those who have repented and turned over a new leaf should be given the benefit of the doubt. They remain, objectively, murderers, but the real question is whether they will murder again.
There is no better illustration of this than a conundrum presented regarding George W. Bush when he was still Governor of Texas, a situation that puzzled liberals to no end. It was the case where a woman on death row in Texas had converted to Christianity, repented of her crimes and showed a complete remorse. Pro-life Christians argued that she should not be subject to the death penalty, and even that she should be released.
“Our God is the God of second chances.”
That’s what Christianity is all about: repentance of sins: