In light of recent debates and misinformation about the topic, I wanted to lay out my thoughts on the recent debate surrounding whether women should be held responsible if abortion is made illegal.
In particular, what I’m referring to is a quote from this article. (emphasis my own)
A consistent pro-life position can maintain that a woman who has an abortion may be morally culpable in the taking of an innocent life, and yet still recognize that in the interest of compassion and proximate justice (e.g., ensuring the conviction of abortionists) she should be treated solely as a second victim and not as a first accomplice.
1. I do not believe that EVERY woman, (that is, 100% of women who have an abortion), are murderers of the same degree. I acknowledge that a person may have been coerced or forced in some way which could legally exonerate her of guilt before the law. I also believe our system is already set up to be merciful when appropriate, to try children differently for crimes and take into account a suspect’s mental state when trying them for a crime.
For this reason, I do not believe we should label all women “solely” as victims, innocent of the murder of children, de facto. They should be labeled as suspects in the murder of a human and let the investigation and trial take place. Judges everywhere sentence people for different reasons based on a number of factors; why deny these same judges the chance to do their job in the case of abortive mothers?
2. I believe that there may be abortive mothers who may, in fact, not actually understand they are taking a human life, as the result of the insidious deceptive teaching they have been subjected to and whatever sheltering from reality they’ve experienced. I do not expect to put a 12 year old girl who has been a sex slave for years and has been forced to down plan-b pills into an electric chair. Again, our system is able to handle these exceptions. If you don’t trust our justice system to handle these circumstances, then there is no point in worrying about making laws, etc.
3. I do believe that, in a sense, every woman alive today is a victim of a society which objectifies them, teaches them to be sexually active, then leaves them with little or no assistance when that sexual activity has undesirable consequences. Women today are taught that children are a burden, pregnancy is negative, they’re #1, abortion isn’t murder, yada yada yada.
But I do not believe that the fact that they are victims of that type of situation makes them less culpable of the guilt of murdering their child. I’m ignorant of a number of laws, I’m sure, yet still responsible for my choices.
By the same logic, I do not believe that people who molest children ought to be considered not guilty because they were also victimized as a child. Everyone is a victim of something. That isn’t the question. The question is whether that victimhood exonerates their actions. Thinking this (innocence as the result of victimhood) can be determined universally is an error.
4. I do not believe that we would extend the same sentiments to a woman who drowned her 1 year old in the tub, or a woman who had a home abortion as some seem to want to extend to women who get abortions before birth at a clinic. If a woman came with the EXACT same excuses use for abortion to excuse suffocating her 3 day old infant, we would call her sick and twisted and call her an unfit mother. I believe it is a logic error to treat preborn so distinctly differently from the born. An error which exhibits a crude rejection of Scripture’s authority.
The idea that we would allow what we call more “humane” abortions in lieu of “more barbaric” ones is barbaric itself. I am no less guilty of murder if I put you to a calm sleep with carbon monoxide as if I shoot you and you bleed out to death. Our sense that somehow one is worse than the other is problematic and is the cause of our ill-fated attempts at incremental change. I see the argument: torture, for example is worse than not torture, but the ultimate crime of murder is still the same in essence.
5. My imagination’s ability or inability to conjure a way to handle the problem of prosecuting women isn’t a logical reason to oppose it or support it. The question is – what is right? How to handle the circumstance created by right laws is something we will have to work out as a society if we get that chance. Assuming we are able to criminalize abortion forensically, I will trust the Lord Jesus Christ to help us effect a system that doles out correct punishment, correction and mercy, according to His Will. Note: calling all abortive mother’s victims removes this possibility.
6. I have heard it said that calling abortive mother’s victims and keeping them from prosecution will help us convict abortionists. I say hogwash. Let’s say you could actually cite old cases that show that that is true – do we really want to mimic the way abortion was handled BEFORE Roe v Wade? It may be the worst argument I’ve heard.
Let’s go back to doing what we did as a country immediately before we became what we’ve now become. Hey, let’s do what immediately preceded (and possibly/probably contributed to) the legalization of abortion!
If you are having trouble with the inanity of that, I don’t know what can help. Honestly, I’m not trying to be rude or sound haughty, but the idea that doing the same thing which was tried historically and clearly seems to have utterly failed is astounding to me.
7. Ok. I get it. Do we drag every woman who ever had an abortion to court? (I don’t think that’s even on the table) See #5. We’ll have to deal with that. Courts take into account all sorts of factors when determining sentences and guilt and whom to prosecute, etc. And, as I think we are all aware, prosecutors exercise some discretion in lighter sentences – often based on the communicated remorse of the accused and their obvious rehabilitation. The point is, we have a system in place to handle all your exceptions. A system which will screw up sometimes.
8. Experience with abortion ministry is not required to be able to speak on the topic. I see folks who maintain sola scriptura in many areas espousing the idea that going to an abortion clinic and getting the finger from an abortive mother is helpful in determining victimhood (or lack thereof). Although I agree these experiences will confirm what we know from Scripture about most murderers, I do not agree that an opinion formed from Scripture on the topic outside of having participated in that ministry is irrelevant. Ultimately, we believe God opens the eyes of the blind to the truth.
Having said that, God may USE circumstances to help us to see His Scripture. That is, He may use the ordinary means of experience to help us to understand what His Scripture was already saying. And those people DO have helpful things to say in the matter.
But, suffice to say, if every abortive mother was kind and gentle and friendly on her way into a clinic, and her baby was killed with the utmost of gentleness and pain free-ness possible, that would have no bearing on the validity of the argument about whether abortive women are victims or not. Abortive mothers may be, (and usually are) morally responsible for the murder of an innocent life (as God sees it).
9. The idea that abortive mothers will testify against the very people they paid to get the illegal abortion is asinine. Maybe in some cases…but my guess is not without the leverage of their own guilt before the law laid out before them. I do understand there are legal difficulties there, but I don’t see women who obtain illegal abortions all of a sudden testifying against those people, as a general rule. Even if it worked, the cost outweighs the benefit.
To deny women the guilt associated with violation of God’s perfect laws and character is to deny them the very thing they need the most – God’s whole counsel to lead them to His kindness and repentance through faith in Jesus Christ. What I am saying is, in our attempt to think we are being merciful and compassionate, we are being hateful to women by not telling them the whole truth about their guilt before a holy God. Sending the mixed message of victimhood will only tend to assuage any conscience they had about it if the Lord wouldn’t intervene in some other way.
People who love and support women will stop treating them as if they are helpless, disillusioned victims of society and give them the truth about abortion, murder, God’s wrath and judgement. And one way we do that is through God’s ordained means of government enacting good laws.
Ultimately, this discussion is very philosophical. We aren’t actually dealing with this circumstance now. But how we view this discussion shows what we really think of the unborn and the people who kill them. It shows our hearts. It shows whether we really trust God to take care of us or if we think we need to take things into our own hands, by applying our human reasoning rather than God’s reasoning.
It is illogical to call abortion a criminal act, an act of murder and not at least keep open the possibility that every party to the act is guilty in some way of murder to some degree. And to compromise that truth for the sake of “proximate justice” and “hopeful prosecution of some” ultimately leads only to the loss of the argument entirely.
Before diving into comment, please read the linked to articles in the introduction.