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.
- More Bad News for Repro Rights by Jill October 26, 2006
- Bill Clinton takes on anti-choicers by Jill February 20, 2008
- More Anti-Choice Terrorism by Jill December 10, 2007
- Pro-Choice Congressmen More Likely to Have Slutty Daughters by Jill June 18, 2007
- “Pro-Lifers” care about women’s lives so much that: by Jill March 31, 2007