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Endangered Species Sighting

[ 0 ] August 31, 2007 |

We have a sighting of that increasingly rare beast, the principled, internally consistent pro-lifer! In response to an Anna Quindlen column that produced the usual outpouring of comically transparent illogic and evasion from anti-choicers, Matt Abbott is willing to actually apply his principles with some measure of consistency:

That said, I do believe, in some cases, the abortion-seeking woman is indeed the perpetrator. She knows very well what she’s doing. She’s not coerced by anyone. Perhaps she’s even going against the wishes of her loved ones. This is the woman who should be treated as a criminal – if not a murderer, then an accessory to murder.

What would be an appropriate prison sentence for such a woman?

Fifteen years-to-life sounds reasonable, no? Of course, one would have to take into account all the circumstances in a particular situation, and it wouldn’t be an easy task. But it could be done.

Admittedly, there’s still a little evasion, as he prefaces this by saying that “[n]ot all abortion-seeking women are perpetrators.” But still, that’s quite different from (in the more typical fashion of the American forced pregnancy lobby) simply assuming a priori that all women who obtain abortions are helpless victims. Moreover, few feminists would deny that some individual women are coerced into abortions, and in addition to safe, legal abortion part of what reproductive freedom should entail is ensuring that women who want to continue their pregnancies have the resources to do so. So while Abbott is very, very wrong, his position is at least worthy of some measure of respect.

Meanwhile, Dana points us to an even rarer animal: the pro-lifer who actually considers how abortion laws work in practice. The novelist Anne Rice, despite being a Catholic opposed to abortion, is endorsing Hillary Clinton because criminalizing abortion doesn’t actually work. This may seem like a rationalization or contradiction, but it’s actually a completely coherent position. Clinton’s set of policies, Rice correctly notes, will actually lead to fewer abortions than the illegal abortion-reactionary gender relations-irrational sex ed-threadbare safety net policies favored by most American “pro-lifers.” (Cf. Canada and Western Europe vs. Latin America.) A similar argument was made in book form by Mark Graber, who’s a reverse John Hart Ely: a pro-lifer who thinks Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. When you look at the inevitably sporadic and arbitrary application of abortion laws, it actually makes perfect sense.

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