Daily Archives: January 22, 2009

Stumping Pro-Lifers

Daniel Florien from Unreasonable Faith has a question that stumps pro-life demonstrators:

If abortion is illegal, what should the punishment be for women who have illegal abortions?

Florien thinks that this question will win any debate with pro-life people:

Now watch their faces as the cognitive dissonance sets in. They believe abortion to be murder. Murder deserves severe punishment. Thus, women who have illegal abortions should receive severe punishment — like life in prison or the death penalty. That’s the logical conclusion.

But they can’t accept this conclusion. They know it’s absurd and unfair — which means they know abortion is not really murder. (source)

Florien mistakenly believes that all pro-lifers are as inconsistent and uninformed in their views as the ones on the YouTube video that he accents this post with.

Why the inconsistency? Why are pro-lifers afraid to say that life in prison would be a reasonable punishment for a woman who has an illegal abortion? I’m not afraid to reveal that that is my position, after much soul-searching and prayer. Abortion is murder, and it should be punished as such.

However, to prove the copus delicti in these cases would entail proving both that the woman was pregnant, and she had an abortion. A careful woman would be able to conceal the fact that she was pregnant from everyone if she planned to have an abortion. There may be little evidence to prove that she was ever pregnant in the first place, and a back alley abortion clinic would have every reason to avoid admitting that they knew she was pregnant to protect themselves.

The mens rea would be a difficult process, too. You’d have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she intended to take her baby’s life, which means proving that, at the time the crime was committed, she understood that the baby was alive inside of her. Here it may be easy to feign ignorance or to muddy the waters by introducing medical data proving that the baby was already in danger of dying.

Conclusion: abortion is murder. Murder merits severe punishment. The punishment should be life in prison, as for any murder. But making a prosecutable case would be extremely difficult. But the possibility of such a sentence would still give anyone pause before committing the crime, and would make any law-abiding citizen consider an option better for the baby, like adoption.