Honesty: A Major Republican Blunder

According to Robert Novak, Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson made “a major abortion blunder” when he stated on Meet the Press that:

“I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as aiders and abettors.” He then went further: “You can’t have a [federal] law” that “would take young, young girls . . . and say, basically, we’re going to put them in jail.”

I can see how pledging not to put women and girls in jail for abortion would outrage social conservatives — especially since Thompson seems to be flip-flopping on this one. Novak claims that conservatives are angry because “No serious antiabortion legislation ever has included criminal penalties against women who have abortions, much less their parents,” and so Thompson was essentially beating up a strawman in his response.

But that begs the question: If social conservatives like Thompson got their way and abortion was illegal, what would the penalty be? I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth reiterating the fact that not even “pro-life” people really believe that the fetus is the equivalent of a born human being, deserving of all the same rights. If they did, they’d promote murder penalties for women who have abortions.

Of course, there are a consistent few who do promote criminal sanctions for women who terminate their pregnancies. And that’s the case in several countries where abortion is illegal. Anti-choicers simply fail to grasp the realistic conclusions to their actions. They try to pass legislation that not only outlaws abortion, but that establishes the personhood of a fetus. So while Novak argues that “No serious antiabortion legislation ever has included criminal penalties against women who have abortions, much less their parents,” that is the logical outcome of much of the anti-choice legislation that has already been passed in this country, and it’s certainly the logical outcome of the ideal anti-choice laws.

It was a bad move for Thompson to address that fact honestly, but not because it was a strawman — but because it’s a messy issue that most anti-choicers don’t want to touch right now.


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39 comments for “Honesty: A Major Republican Blunder

  1. November 8, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    If it makes you feel better, I promote murder penalties for all parties involved, including the mothers.

  2. Seraph
    November 8, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Actually, it does. We can point at you and say to other forced-birth advocates: “You see? This is the logical conclusion of your rhetoric.”

    Of course, most will say that you’re crazy, that you don’t represent them or the real “Pro-life” movement, but we’ll already have our opening to stick the knife in and say “But if abortion is murder, he’s the one in the right!” Some might get uncomfortable enough at being associated with such a psycho that they’ll stfu. Others might even reconsider their stance.

    So yes, it does make us feel better. Thank you.

  3. November 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    When I was in the pro-life movement, and longing for a middle-ground and nuanced leadership, one that would seek to end abortion by changing hearts and minds rather than by changing laws, all I ran into, again and again, were the Nathan Sheets of the world.

    I still grieve abortion. I long for the world where every child conceived is planned and wanted. But as much as anything, the Nathan Sheets of the world helped me to see that working for life requires honoring the freedom to choose. I came back to my pro-choice roots after I despaired of finding thoughtful, feminist voices in the pro-life movement. Alas, Nathan speaks for more pro-lifers than not — and I’ve been in their marches and at their meetings.

  4. November 8, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    If it makes you feel better, I promote murder penalties for all parties involved, including the mothers.

    How utter pro-life. And I do mean that as sarcasm. Nathan runs an anti-abortion site and he hates NARAL.

  5. November 8, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    You’re welcome Seraph. I’m glad that I can embody what the logical conclusion of “the unborn are people” would be—human beings deserving of justice when they are killed.

  6. Mnemosyne
    November 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    I’m glad that I can embody what the logical conclusion of “the unborn are people” would be—human beings deserving of justice when they are killed.

    Yeah, Olga Reyes deserved to die for having an ectopic pregnancy! After all, everyone knows that a fetus can grow and be born from the fallopian tube instead of the uterus with no damage to the mother or the fetus.

    Right, Nathan?

  7. November 8, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    No one is talking about ectopic pregnancies, Mnemosyne. Seriously.

  8. Mnemosyne
    November 8, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    No one is talking about ectopic pregnancies, Mnemosyne. Seriously.

    She died because her doctors were afraid of being prosecuted for giving her an abortion, so they refused to treat her until it was too late.

    Seriously.

    You can pretend your actions don’t kill anyone, but they do. Olga Reyes’ blood is on your hands no matter how much you wash them.

  9. November 8, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    No one is talking about ectopic pregnancies, Mnemosyne. Seriously.

    Well that sure is funny, because women are dying from them in countries with anti-choice laws.

  10. Seraph
    November 8, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Fair enough, Nathan. You shouldn’t waste this rhetoric on us, though. You know we’re not susceptible to it. What you should do is start spreading the word, doing your best to convince more moderate forced-birth advocates and “mushy middlers” that their friends, mothers, and sisters should face murder charges. Regret it now and you’re picketing or otherwise working against abortion as part of your atonement? Too bad. “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it when you hire a paid killer to whack your child. You’re fifty now and you were eighteen then? No statute of limitations on murder.

    Best of luck with that.

  11. November 8, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Why is her blood on my hands? I’ve never been to Nicaragua, nor do I have any desire ever to go there.

    You and I both know that it will not be illegal for women to get abortions in the case of ectopic pregnancies in the United States, and I don’t think that the vast majorities of pro-lifers (including myself) would think that we should.

    The point that Jill made in this post is one that I totally agree with: even pro-lifers do not view the fetus as a human being. Her evidence—which I have used as well—is that many pro-lifers waiver on punishing women who kill their children. If we were talking about a woman killing her three year-old, there would be no questions. I am merely pointing out that I am one of the few pro-lifers who think that even the women should be liable for their actions.

  12. November 8, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Jill—well then maybe they need to rethink legislation that sentences both child and mother to death.

  13. November 8, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    You and I both know that it will not be illegal for women to get abortions in the case of ectopic pregnancies in the United States, and I don’t think that the vast majorities of pro-lifers (including myself) would think that we should.

    I’d double-check that, Nathan. If abortion is illegal, abortion-inducing drugs will probably be illegal too, right? Well, the easiest and most effective way to deal with an ectopic pregnancy is to inject an abortion-inducing drug. That very well may not be a possibility if abortion is illegal in the United States.

    The typical “pro-life” answer to the ectopic pregnancy issue is to just remove the woman’s entire fallopian tube (or cervix or whatever the embryo has implanted it). That obviously compromises her fertility and is much more dangerous. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts — is abortion of an ectopic pregnancy acceptable, or should doctors be required to remove the entire tube?

    The point that Jill made in this post is one that I totally agree with: even pro-lifers do not view the fetus as a human being. Her evidence—which I have used as well—is that many pro-lifers waiver on punishing women who kill their children. If we were talking about a woman killing her three year-old, there would be no questions. I am merely pointing out that I am one of the few pro-lifers who think that even the women should be liable for their actions.

    If that’s the case, and if you’re really interested in saving unborn babies, I’m curious as to what you’re doing about the massive death rate from pre-implantation miscarriages? I wrote about that here, and I’d love to hear your response.

  14. Seraph
    November 8, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Why is her blood on my hands? I’ve never been to Nicaragua, nor do I have any desire ever to go there.

    Have to concede that. Just because you want us to be like them, at least in this respect, doesn’t mean that you’re responsible for what they’ve already done.

    You and I both know that it will not be illegal for women to get abortions in the case of ectopic pregnancies in the United States, and I don’t think that the vast majorities of pro-lifers (including myself) would think that we should.

    There will be places where abortion is illegal under any circumstances (South Dakota already tried that one), and where it’s only legal to save the life of the mother. To protect themselves legally (from murder charges?), most doctors will wait until the woman’s life is in immediate danger. This will cost women their lives.

    The point that Jill made in this post is one that I totally agree with: even pro-lifers do not view the fetus as a human being. Her evidence—which I have used as well—is that many pro-lifers waiver on punishing women who kill their children. If we were talking about a woman killing her three year-old, there would be no questions. I am merely pointing out that I am one of the few pro-lifers who think that even the women should be liable for their actions.

    Again, fair enough. Best of luck finding allies.

    well then maybe they need to rethink legislation that sentences both child and mother to death

    Can’t. That would leave loopholes that other women could slip through. Better to let a few women die than allow any babies to be murdered.

  15. November 8, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    >>The typical “pro-life” answer to the ectopic pregnancy issue is to just remove the woman’s entire fallopian tube (or cervix or whatever the embryo has implanted it). That obviously compromises her fertility and is much more dangerous. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts — is abortion of an ectopic pregnancy acceptable, or should doctors be required to remove the entire tube?>If that’s the case, and if you’re really interested in saving unborn babies, I’m curious as to what you’re doing about the massive death rate from pre-implantation miscarriages? I wrote about that here, and I’d love to hear your response.

  16. November 8, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    “The typical “pro-life” answer to the ectopic pregnancy issue is to just remove the woman’s entire fallopian tube (or cervix or whatever the embryo has implanted it). That obviously compromises her fertility and is much more dangerous. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts — is abortion of an ectopic pregnancy acceptable, or should doctors be required to remove the entire tube?”

    Jill: I have never heard that from a pro-lifer. All of the pro-lifers with whom I have discussed this issue are OK with an abortion in this case because there is no way for either the mother or the unborn baby to survive. It’s one of those situations where, if nothing is done, what’s the point? Save the mother. Obviously there’s a difference between removing a child in this case and removing him because you forgot a round of your pills one day.

    “If that’s the case, and if you’re really interested in saving unborn babies, I’m curious as to what you’re doing about the massive death rate from pre-implantation miscarriages? I wrote about that here, and I’d love to hear your response.”

    Currently a group that I am a part of “Pro-Lifers Against Pre-Implantation Spontaneous Abortions” (PLAPISA) are launching a semi-nationwide campaign to raise awareness on this very issue, Jill!

  17. November 8, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    Sereph:

    “There will be places where abortion is illegal under any circumstances (South Dakota already tried that one), and where it’s only legal to save the life of the mother. To protect themselves legally (from murder charges?), most doctors will wait until the woman’s life is in immediate danger. This will cost women their lives.””

    I would think that a fallopian pregnancy—having, to my knowledge, ever ended successfully in an alive mother/child—would not need to be waited on until the woman was about to die. Hence, we could go ahead and put it on the “Life of the Mother in Danger, Proceed” list.

  18. Mnemosyne
    November 8, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Why is her blood on my hands? I’ve never been to Nicaragua, nor do I have any desire ever to go there.

    And yet you desire the United States to have abortion laws with harsher punishments than Nicaragua’s. After all, there’s nothing in Nicaraguan law that directs doctors to let women with ectopic pregnancies die. The law just says that abortions are banned absolutely and any doctor who performs one will go to jail for 6 years.

    So, naturally, doctors have decided to make patients wait until their lives are endangered before the doctor does anything, because if the doctor acts prematurely and can be accused of performing an unnecessary abortion, he or she will go to jail. Doesn’t matter if the patient’s life was saved — if it was an abortion, the doctor and the patient go to jail.

    So if this is happening when the doctor and the patient are looking at a mere six years in jail for an illegal abortion, what do you think will be the results when the patient is looking at a possible death sentence?

  19. Seraph
    November 8, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Currently a group that I am a part of “Pro-Lifers Against Pre-Implantation Spontaneous Abortions” (PLAPISA) are launching a semi-nationwide campaign to raise awareness on this very issue, Jill!

    I call shenanigans. Has anybody ever seen this Nathan guy before, or is some random troll just pulling our chains?

  20. November 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Seraph: that was a joke. ;)

  21. Mnemosyne
    November 8, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    My longer comment is in moderation, but you may be interested to know that the position of the Roman Catholic Church is that removing an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion and is not permitted. As Jill said, it can only be removed as part of another procedure that incidentally leads to the death of the embryo.

    You may need to get out and talk to a wider range of pro-life people, Nathan, because you don’t seem to have much of a clue about what people on your side have been saying.

  22. November 8, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Mnemosyne: as a non-Catholic, it really doesn’t make a difference to me. Could you point me in a direction where they teach that, however?

    Believe me, I know plenty of pro-lifers. I’ve worked for organizations and have been blogging for years. I’ve yet to meet a pro-lifer who suggests the procedure laid out by Jill. I’m not saying they don’t exist—I’m just saying I don’t think that they are in as great of numbers as she believes.

  23. November 8, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    To the people I’ve been talking to: it’s bed time for me. I’ll try to respond to any more comments to me when I awake.

  24. Mnemosyne
    November 8, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Mnemosyne: as a non-Catholic, it really doesn’t make a difference to me. Could you point me in a direction where they teach that, however?

    Right here. Took five seconds of Googling “Catholic ectopic.”

    Believe me, I know plenty of pro-lifers. I’ve worked for organizations and have been blogging for years. I’ve yet to meet a pro-lifer who suggests the procedure laid out by Jill. I’m not saying they don’t exist—I’m just saying I don’t think that they are in as great of numbers as she believes.

    The Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the United States. They operate hundreds of hospitals in this country. They have very deep pockets (though slightly less deep after the molestation scandals).

    And you’re going to try to convince us that they’re a tiny, marginalized group that has no influence on this debate? Really? Gosh, I buy that, and I’ll buy the bridge you’re selling, too! Heck, throw that Florida swampland in as part of the deal!

  25. November 8, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    I’m not saying they don’t exist—I’m just saying I don’t think that they are in as great of numbers as she believes.

    Last I checked, there are a hell of a lot of pro-life Catholics who follow the Church’s teachings (or at least vote and talk as if they do). And, even more importantly for non-Catholics, there are a whole lot of Catholic hospitals that attempt to adhere to Catholic teachings. Here is an article from the American Life League, one of the largest anti-choice groups in the country, explaining their position on ectopic pregnancy. It says:

    Using the Thomistic Principle of Totality (removal of a pathological part to preserve the life of the person) and the Doctrine of Double Effect, the only moral action in an ectopic pregnancy where a woman’s life is directly threatened is the removal of the tube containing the human embryo. The death of the human embryo is unintended although foreseen. Put another way, if there were a way to save both lives, which, of course, are of equal value, one would be obliged morally to do so. At this time, this is not possible.

    It is acknowledged that it has become commonplace even in Catholic hospitals to open the tube and “suction out the human embryo” or administer methotrexate either via mouth or laparoscopy. Both of these procedures directly attack an innocent human life and are intrinsically immoral and never can be justified. In fact, they violate the Fifth Commandment, which under all circumstances prohibits a direct attack on innocent human life. There are absolutely no exceptions to the 5th Commandment as described.

    In other words, it’s exactly what I said, and it’s what a whole lot of anti-choice people believe. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I’d really suggest you look into the actual beliefs of your fellow pro-lifers.

  26. D.N. Nation
    November 8, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Bottom line: Pro-life America is long on rhetoric, microscopic on logistics.

  27. Bitter Scribe
    November 8, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    This is an obvious, and extremely clumsy, attempt by Thompson to try to straddle the abortion issue. He knows perfectly well that no one but lunatics like our Mr. Sheets wants women prosecuted for murder for seeking an abortion. Saying he doesn’t want to “criminalize young girls” is just a way for him to try to sound reasonable to pro-choicers while continuing to chase the anti-abortion vote.

    He reminds me of no one so much as this utter weasel who once ran for governor of Illinois. This guy was getting beaten up for opposing gun control, which is popular in Illinois, so he came out with a statement that he was against selling “automatic weapons.” He was hoping people would confuse these with semiautomatic weapons, which were the topic of a gun-control controversy at the time. Full-auto firearms (which fire repeatedly as long as you hold down the trigger, as opposed to semis, whose triggers you have to pull for each shot) have not been legal to sell anywhere in the U.S. for decades.

  28. annejumps
    November 8, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Gee, perhaps Sheets is unaware that there is a thread about Olga Reyes right here on this site, on the front page.

  29. November 8, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    The GOP have never been honest with anything since 1980. We all know that the conservatives want to lock up “uppity aborting bitches” to prove their love for the 1950s way of life.

    Now, we all know that the wingnuts want to kill women at will with their anti-choice laws.

  30. November 8, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    I promote murder penalties for all parties involved, including the mothers.

    Then what?

    I’m serious. The law is passed. What is the next step for you and those who think like you?

  31. Bloix
    November 9, 2007 at 2:02 am

    There is a woman serving 12 years in prison for causing her fetus to abort spontaneously due to her use of crack cocaine. She was convicted under laws against child abuse. The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the conviction.
    http://drugpolicyalliance.org/news/01_27_03woman.cfm

    Anyone here want to argue that the prosecutor in that case would not prosecute a woman who had an abortion for murder?

  32. November 9, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I promote murder penalties for all parties involved, including the mothers.

    Then what?

    Then the girls would be back in their place, duh. Then if a woman tries to get too mouthy or uppity, a strong, pro-life, family man can just rape her and saddle her with a baby or two. And if she tries to wiggle out of her womanly duty, there’s a good chance she’ll wind up injured, infected, dead or in prison, where she belongs.

    Outlawing abortion is about dehumanizing women, so little men can feel superior just for being born with a dick.

  33. eyelid
    November 9, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    “No serious antiabortion legislation ever has included criminal penalties against women who have abortions, much less their parents,”

    That’s ridiculous. Of course it has. Pre-Roe, abortion was a felony in many states – Georgia, for example.

    I know this because my father did his residency in Florida at a hospital that frequently received young women from Georgia who were dying of sepsis/gangrene from illegal botched abortions. They couldn’t go to hospitals in Georgia because they’d’ve been arrested and put in jail. Of course by the time they got to a Florida hospital that would accept them it was far too late to save them.

    It was a pro-life paradise.

  34. bmc90
    November 9, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    There’s never going to be a live child under circumstances where a partial birth abortion is performed and yet the federal law banning the practice was upheld. So I don’t see why a pro-lifer would balk at forcing a woman to die or have her fallopian tube removed, or the former when the latter is done to late out of fear of prosection.

  35. bmc90
    November 9, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Sorry – not that I accept the meme that there is any such thing as ‘partial birth abortion’ – not a term found in any medical textbook.

  36. November 9, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Trailer Park –

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I find it amazing that some folks would want to spend billions on building new prisons, arresting / trying / convicting these people, supporting them on the taxpayers’ dimes for the next 20 years to life, forcing all of their children into an already bloated and broken foster system …

    … as opposed to spending a fraction of that for nationwide access to BC and health care because they go against their personal idea of what God thinks. Funny how places like the Netherlands – with comprehensive BC and age appropriate sex ed – is still around, not consumed by locusts or frogs or rivers of blood or anything. I don’t recall hearing the Parliament being turned into a giant pillar of salt … nothin’.

  37. Raincitygirl
    November 9, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Incidentally, the Netherlands has not only the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the world, but also the lowest abortion rate in the world.

    Pro-forced birthers just refuse to accept the idea that statistically speaking, the best way to lower the percentage of pregnancies which end in abortion is to make both birth control and abortion highly accessible. It’s one of life’s little ironies.

  38. kate
    November 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    … as opposed to spending a fraction of that for nationwide access to BC and health care because they go against their personal idea of what God thinks. Funny how places like the Netherlands – with comprehensive BC and age appropriate sex ed – is still around, not consumed by locusts or frogs or rivers of blood or anything. I don’t recall hearing the Parliament being turned into a giant pillar of salt … nothin’.

    Thank you Joshua for saying what I’ve been saying amongst friends for quite awhile.

    The entire ‘debate’ is based on nothing more than the desire to completely dehumanize women to the middle ages and it gets its traction through nothing more than superstition and the fear such engenders. Intelligent thought has nothing to do with religion, its all about the few oppressing the many through lies told from cradle to grave.

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