“What about the women who have abortions?”

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:

7 responses to ““What about the women who have abortions?”

  1. To me, it comes down to one of the five main reasons for abortion:
    1. Medical, to save the life of the mother: Doctor’s triage. Doctors have to “murder” people all the time when faced with two patients and not enough time; while a cesarean abortion in this case at least gives the *chance* to save the life of the infant, in reality the doctor is choosing the patient they are best able to save.
    2. Rape- I put the full blame for the abortion on the part of the man who raped the woman. A rape that results in pregnancy, and then an abortion to save the sanity of the woman, is a murder, and the rapist should go to life in solitary confinement for it.
    3. Incest- Same idea as rape here, it’s the man’s fault entirely. Life in solitary confinement for murder.
    4. To save the health of the mother- this one is trickier, but if not a cesarean abortion, the doctor *and* the mother should both be tried for negligent manslaughter rather than murder.
    5. Economic abortion- this is outright murder on the part of the mother, and she should be locked up lest one day she loose her job and kill her other children in economic desperation.

  2. Expansion on #5 though:
    Capitalism can also cause a form of economic abortion, where the mother is so poor that she feels she has no choice at all. I consider this to be not only murder- but also a secondary sin of a lack of charity on the part of the other 299,999,999 of us in the United States who saw the plight of our fellow human being and did nothing. However, it is my feeling that by sacrificing the free market and our own property rights to give the poor their due, this form of abortion can likely be eliminated overnight, because in this singular case, unlike the other 5, abortion is just a symptom of a larger problem.

    • Ted,
      Actually, the Church does teach that when poor people are so oppressed they feel no recourse but abortion or contraception, the greater guilt is society’s.
      However, of all the motives you list, you miss one: fear. Many young women have abortions not even for economic reasons but they’re afraid of the stigma of “teen pregnancy”–the full manifestation of what C. S. Lewis called “Apostate Puritanism” in modern American and British culture (a superficial emphasis on propriety of appearance but tolerance for horrible behavior). They are afraid to even tell their families of the baby for fear of being ostracized, or else they’re pressured into it by the fathers or either set of parents.
      The other four motives you list are incredibly rare. Only a very small percentage of abortions are for rape or incest.
      Case studies show that women who have abortions because of rape end up traumatized more by the abortion than the rape, while women who carry the babies to term can find the pregnancy as a source of healing. I have two personal friends who are pro-life who’ve conceived in rape. One had an abortion, deeply regrets it, and has dedicated her life to pro-life activism because of it. She campaigned for SC’s sonogram bill because she says she’d have never had an abortion if she’d had a sonogram. The other woman brought her child to term, and loves her daughter immensely, and is now married to one of my lifelong friends, who embraced his “instant family” with great enthusiasm.

      So that leaves medical: the Church says it’s OK to do a procedure that might inadvertantly kill the child if your main intention is to do something else. It is never ethical for doctors to deliberately choose to kill a patient.

      Knowing the physical trauma that abortion entails from the many testimonies I’ve read, I really fail to see how abortion is ever medically preferable than carrying the child to term or doing a caesarian.

      The other approach that “Operation Counterstrike” likes to use is “we don’t want to kill the child; just end the pregnancy.” OK. Then if it’s “health of the mother,” remove the baby and put the baby in a life support system. But do they ever actually *do* that? Would liberals support a measure to legally require life-saving measures? Obviously, Komrade Obama doesn’t.

      • I missed fear, because I don’t understand it. As an autistic, I could care less what people around me think. Throughout my life, I’ve never quite understood peer pressure, or doing something for the sake of appearances.

        I’m not sure what we can do about that, other than perhaps what Elanor Roosevelt suggested in the UN Declaration of Human Rights- a separate economy and place of honor for mothers and children, regardless of circumstances.

        The classic case of abortion being medically preferable to carrying a child to term is ectopic pregnancy; the classic solution is *ALWAYS* an emergency cesarean in that case.

        Similar to ectopic pregnancy is pregnancy in combination with uterine cancer, that one gets more tricky as it depends on the tumor. Don’t remember her name right now, but there’s a famous Canadian or American Saint who, back in the 1950s, actually *choose* to give up her own life in the case of uterine cancer, and her child born on the day she died lived to see Pope John Paul II canonize the mother.

        Personally, I think that *speaking with my liberal hat on* I’d support a “moral conscience bill” that requires doctors to consider *BOTH* patients when making such decisions, and consider any pregnant patient a matter of triage.

        Just as I fully support, right now, the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in their mission to provide ultrasound machines to clinics and emergency pregnancy centers.

      • I wonder if that’s one of the nuances between being more high functioning autistic versus Asperger’s? In my case, I couldn’t care less about superficial social rules or approval in that sense. I really don’t understand “embarrassment,” but I do understand mortification and fear–the feeling that people will completely reject you if you do such-and-such a thing.

        But that issue is where

        You’re thinking of St. Gianna Molla. Another cool story is the first successful valve-sparing aortic root surgery on a Marfan. The woman was Catholic. She didn’t want an artificial valve or a pig valve because both procedures would make child-bearing a huge risk (bleeding for the former; immunity for the latter). Plus, “the experts” generally discourage Marfans, especially Marfan women, from reproducing at all.

        But the woman chose valve-sparing surgery, which supposedly “doesn’t work” on Marfan patients, and it was successful. As far as I heard ,she’s still alive and has born several children since her aortic aneurysm repair.

        Judie Brown says ectopic pregnancy is a different matter because a) the baby won’t survive anyway and b) it can be argued that ectopic pregnancy surgery is a case where the doctors are trying to correct a problem, and the death of the baby is an unfortunate side-effect.

        However, when the CDF finally spoke out on the recent controversy about the Brazilian abortion, and subsequent excommunications, and the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life saying that the abortions were excusable, the CDF said that the Church has never officially made a decision on ectopic pregnancy.

  3. You have made what I call the “drug-addict argument”, which was promoted in its purest form by Pat Buchanan. It goes: “The abortion patient is like a drug addict; the abortion-doc is like the pusher. We should punish the pusher and be gentle with the victim.” You make a similar point using the analogy of the student-plagerizer.

    Well, this argument works for drug-crimes, but only because taking drugs is a VICTIMLESS crime. It hurts no one except the one who takes the drugs. The abortion is more like a case where a drug addict murders someone in order to get money for drugs. Can you imagine Pat Buchanan (or yourself) saying “Don’t punish him for the murder; just punish the pusher who got him addicted!” No, that would be absurd. So this idea, that the patients who hire abortions done are victims, not killers, and should only be minimally punished, fails because abortion HAS a victim who (according to you) needs to be protected, just like any other murder victim. Saying we should punish those who victimize the unborn less harshly than those who victimize already-born people, is rank discrimination against the unborn.

    RE: “When a teenage girl has an abortion, is she really culpable? Does she know abortion is murder? Does she know the unborn child is a person?”

    You seem to be saying murderers should get leniency if they do not know that their victims are persons. By this reasoning, a racialist who believes that negros are not really human beings, should also receive leniency–he didn’t know his victim was a person either! Same with Nazis–according to your argument, they should get leniency because they didn’t KNOW Jews were people. Sorry but that won’t fly, and your attempt to make it fly shows you up as a careless thinker at best and as mealy-mouthed hypocrite at worst.

    Finally let me point out, since I have a passing acquaintance with the person called “OperationCounterstrike”, that this person cannot be banned, because (s)he lives in NYC. There are internet cafes on every street corner. OC could log in from forty different providers in a single hour, and leave comments here from all of them. The only way to ban OC is to ban ALL commenters from NYC, which I don’t think you want to do.

    • I think you *are* “Operation Counterstrike,” as a) I’ve seen some of your alternate screen names following links from your page and b) you have the same basic style. There are various ways to ban people. WordPress has a nice system where you can enter e-mail addresses, screen names or even keywords. Technically, I did not “ban” but only put comments under moderation because of your offensive language and obvious narcissism. I have a life, and an initial back-and-forth is fine, but I don’t have the time in my day to dedicate to posting 25 responses a day to some narcissistic sociopath. Your real goal is not to engage in dialogue but to harrass me into shutting down my blog, as you refuse to accept any viewpoints that disagree with your bloodthirst, as perfectly indicated by your present demonic screenname.

      Ignorance *is* a modifier of legal culpability. That’s why minors are punished less severely. That’s why we have “insanity pleas.”

      The question is not the unborn child’s humanity but the perceived humanity. *You* are acting under the presumption that crimes should always be “punished,” which, as I say above, is not my presumption. The purpose of punishment is redemption.

      Aren’t liberals the ones who supposedly believe in preventing crimes by education and economic support for the poor, and inexpensive or free psychotherapy?

      I think our legal system is far too punitive as it is. Obviously, it is impossible to protect the child of a woman who has already had an abortion. The question is whether she will have future abortions.

      But, again, the real question is the perceived humanity of an unborn child. Your Nazi and KKK analogies don’t hold unless you’re talking about some low-level Nazi who’s involved in the gas chamber but doesn’t know what the gas chamber’s doing.

      Was every person who was constrained into service of the Nazis sentenced to war crimes? That would have been tantamount to genocide of its own!
      What about every confederate citizen or soldier?

      Of course not! Personal responsibility should always come into play. “I was only following orders” is not a valid defense because one has the choice, in theory, *not* to follow orders. However, one does not have a free choice if one is under penalty of death.

      Indeed, it’s ironic that you turn to that example, since the Nuremberg trials overtly evoked Natural Law, which you claim doesn’t exist. The only reason to prosecute Nazis for “war crimes” is to appeal to a Natural Law. Positivism would argue that the Nazis were guilty of nothing because they were only following the agreed upon laws of their society at the time.

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