by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
I think we have to keep in mind the distinction between homicide and murder when we discuss abortion. I am not sure there is any logical way to argue that an abortion is not a kind of homicide. I mean, I support a woman's right to choose, but a fetus is not merely a "thing." At the same time, if we go from calling abortion homicide to calling it murder we are essentially making a moral judgment: we are saying that this kind of homicide is completely unacceptable. If that's Santorum's position, he is welcome to it.
Another expands on that point:
I’ve seen it pop up in several places recently. The newest challenge to the intellectual integrity of the anti-abortion/pro-life movement is to say: Well, if you really think that abortion is murder, why don’t you advocate that those responsible be tried for murder and punished as other murderers are? Apparently, the reluctance of the anti-abortion movement to take this position reflects an underlying hypocrisy.
As a pro-choice person, this strikes me as a disastrous path for the choice movement to go down. In the first place, I’m sure that plenty of anti-abortion advocates would like to see those who perform abortion, and perhaps even some of the women who have abortions, tried for homicide. They don’t push this point, because it seems overly harsh to most people.
But second, there is nothing inconsistent about treating abortion as a crime of lesser severity than the cold-blooded murder of an adult or child. All states recognize different levels of homicide, with different levels of punishment. Clearly, in a society where there is not yet a consensus as to the morality of abortion, where it is illegal it would make sense to treat it as a lesser crime than standard-issue homicides.
The bottom line is that, for years, the pro-choice movement has been trying in vain to show that the anti-abortion movement is either logically flawed or some sort of unhealthy spinoff of religious extremists and/or male misogynists. Neither of these is true. There are millions of people in this country who genuinely believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent life and, therefore, immoral and should be outlawed. Whether you agree or not, it’s a pretty simple proposition, an entirely legitimate point of view.
Pro-choice advocates frequently talk about a woman’s right to control her own body, to choose, and the negative impact on her life of an unwanted pregnancy. All of these are legitimate concerns and issues to raise, but they don’t engage with their opponents’ sole argument: that abortion is the taking of an innocent life. To dismiss that argument is to lose the debate. Unless pro-choice advocates directly confront the moral issue here, and address whether in fact a “life” is involved, they are destined to lose the debate.
The discussion of "abortion as murder" reminds me of this YouTube video. In it, abortion protesters outside of a clinic are asked what the hypothetical punishment should be for women who have an illegal abortion. There are not too many responses.
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