Should We Criminalize Women for Abortions? | The Mark Harrington Show | 5-16-19

Should We Criminalize Women for Abortions? | The Mark Harrington Show | 5-16-19


Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the strongest pro-life bill in the country, making almost all abortions illegal in the Yellowhammer state.

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act (HB 314) bans abortion for any reason other than to “avert (a mother’s) death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function.” Performing an abortion would become a Class C felony, punishing abortionists with up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Unlike legislation introduced in Texas, this bill would not hold the woman criminally culpable or civilly liable for committing the abortion.

National Right to Life says, “It goes too far.” The “All or nothing” crowd says “It doesn’t go far enough.” Pat Robertson even says the law is too extreme. While, abortion advocates are going crazy over it.

During the legislative debate, Democrat state Rep. John Rogers rose to national prominence for defending abortion on the grounds that “some kids are unwanted, so you kill ’em now or kill ’em later.”


Mark interviews, Fr. Terry Gensemer, from CEC for Life who has been instrumental in the passage of this bill. Also, mark deals with the issue of whether women who commit abortions ought to be criminalized and send to prison.

My friend Scott Klusendorf adds some insight below:

Suppose unborn humans are once again protected in law. What’s wrong with a law that says you can’t intentionally kill innocent human beings and if you do, there will be consequences?

But as to what those consequences should be in this case hinges not only on the circumstances of the act (who can possibly say what the consequences should be until all the relevant facts are known?), as it does on all homicide cases, but also on whether there’s been what Criminology Professor Mike S. Adams calls a “meeting of the minds.” That is to say, did the woman contracting the abortion have the same understanding of the act and same proximity to it as the abortionist? I think most agree that the abortionist knows exactly what he’s doing while the aborting mother may not fully understand. For example, the abortionist assembles the instruments used to dismember the fetus and often views the child on an ultrasound machine during the dismemberment procedure. He uses a doppler devise, inaudible to the patient, to detect crushing fetal heartbeat. (See abortionist Warren Hern’s book, “Abortion Practice.”) His acts are clearly premeditated. True, the mother and the abortionist have a meeting of the minds in that they agree on having the abortion, but they rarely meet beyond that point because the mother rarely knows what the abortionist knows.

In other words, in these kinds of cases, it’s very difficult to prove that there’s been a meeting of the minds in a court of law. Thus, pro-life lawmakers have traditionally chosen to focus on stopping the killing by proposing harsher penalties for the abortionist than for the mother. Admittedly, one could still argue that, strictly speaking, proposing a lesser penalty for one party is inconsistent. But isn’t that true of many homicide cases? We’ve all heard of cases where a mother kills her newborn or toddler and gets no jail time whatsoever. (See, for example, “Judge shows mercy on mother with post-natal depression who killed her baby as he spares her jail,” Daily Mail, Nov. 12, 2013.)

But again, even if pro-lifers are inconsistent on the issue of consequences, how would that in anyway prove the unborn are not human or that intentionally killing them is justified? At best, it proves individual pro-lifers are failing to consistently apply their ethic, not that they’ve failed to make a case for the humanity of the unborn and the inhumanity of abortion. Thus, the alleged inconsistency of pro-lifers is no help to the abortion-choice argument.

Also, Clarke Forsythe adds some historical perspective here:

Here are few of Forsythe’s points:

  1. There is no documented case since 1922 in which a woman has been charged in an abortion in the United States.
  2. States did not treat women who had the abortion as either principals or accomplices.
  3. The target of abortion law was the abortionist—the principal in the crime.
  4. Another main reason for the non-prosecution of women is that relieving women from criminal liability provided states with a better chance of achieving convictions against abortionists—the principal.
  5. As long ago as 1880, a Texas court affirmed that the woman was a victim, not just rhetorically but in the law.

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