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05 August 2008

No Punishment for Abortion?

By Diana Hsieh

In this amazing YouTube video (embedding forbidden, unfortunately), experienced anti-abortion activists are asked what the punishment should be for women who seek and obtain abortions if abortion were outlawed. None is able to give the only answer consistent with their stated view that embryos and fetuses are full-fledged human persons with a right to life, namely that the woman should be punished with years in prison for murder. Most think that she shouldn't be subject to any kind of legal punishment whatsoever.

That's shocking.

The anti-abortionists claim that abortion is the murder of a unborn baby. They claim that an embryo/fetus has exactly the same right to life as a baby. Yet deep down, they clearly don't believe that. At least implicitly, they recognize some significant difference between a baby and an embryo/fetus. In fact, they regard that difference as so significant that they hold that the willful, deliberate killing of a baby should merit the harsh legal punishment years in prison (if not life in prison or the death penalty), whereas the willful, deliberate of an embryo/fetus should merit no legal punishment whatsoever.

The point isn't that these anti-abortionists are hypocrites. Hypocrisy involves some conflict between a person's stated ideals and his actions. For an anti-abortionist to seek an abortion because she doesn't want another child would be hypocrisy. In that case, she would know that she's acting against the very principles she advocates. That's not what is happening here.

Instead, this video shows that these anti-abortionists seriously fail to understand the full meaning and implications of their own principles. They cannot face the awful prospect of sentencing a 19-year-old girl who terminates an unwanted pregnancy because she was rightly terrified at the impossible burden of raising a child alone with 20 years in prison. Yet that's exactly what their principles demand.

Perhaps that means that some anti-abortionists might be amenable to gentle persuasion about the real meaning and implications of their views. I hope so, but I won't hold my breath.

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