Pro-lifers generally aren’t interested in throwing women in jail for having abortions. Ana Quindlen believes they should be, if they want to be consistent.
I’ve encountered many pro-choice people who believe some variation of the same thing. If you think abortion should usually be illegal you must think women who have abortions are murder moms, and if you think someone is a murder mom, you must want them punished as a murderer. If you don’t, your views are in contradiction.
Various pro-lifers have responded to Quindlen here at NRO. See also here for a Mirror of Justice response. On the other hand, on the sidebar Dave Banack links to a Mirror of Justice pro-lifer who reluctantly argues that treating women who get abortions as less than murderers means treating unborn children as less than fully human.
I can think of several reasons why someone could want to penalize doctors who perform abortions but not penalize the women they perform abortions on.
Perhaps some pro-lifers think the unborn baby is morally important but not actually a person for moral purposes. That might justify legal efforts to protect its existence while not treating everyone involved as a murderer.
Pro-lifers who think the unborn baby is a person morally speaking still might have different aims. One aim is to protect the lives of the unborn. Another is to have the law recognize the value of the lives of the unborn. Another might be to punish those who are guilty of harming the lives of the unborn. A pro-lifer might legitimately sacrifice their concern for punishing the guilty if it makes legislation that protects the lives of the unborn more likely to pass.
Pro-lifers who think that the unborn baby is a person morally speaking still might not think that killing the baby is subjectively murder. Dead is dead, but the law recognizes that some types of killing are worse than others. I have made this argument before.
I am interested in the views of anyone who accepts any kind of legal restriction on abortion–anything from a partial-birth abortion ban to parental restrictions to a complete prohibition on any kind of abortion whatsoever. Do you advocate applying the same penalties to mothers as you would to anyone else involved, and why?
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