The crime of abortion

The crime of abortion

Commentary by Judie Brown

In recent days, a couple of ideas have flowed from the minds of pundits that suggest paving new paths for pro-life thought and action regarding abortion law. Unfortunately, both of these suggestions are far off track, and neither would do anything towards achieving the ultimate goal of establishing personhood for all human beings from the moment of fertilization.

The first suggestion is that it would be a good thing for the Supreme Court to overturn the deadly Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions of 1973, for that would throw things back into the hands of the states. While those two rulings, which permit abortion for any reason at any point between fertilization and birth, are fraught with evil, overturning them alone will not return the country to a certain point in time in 1973.

For one thing, abortion was already decriminalized in several states prior to 1973. Since the Roe and Doe rulings, many state legislatures have fallen prey to the propaganda that Roe v. Wade was "the law of the land" and have written a "right" to abortion into their state constitutions. Sadly, in those particular states, legal abortion is indeed the law of the land, and overturning Roe and Doe would have no impact in those states.

Some even envision a red state / blue state scenario, much like the 2000 and 2004 presidential electoral maps, where abortion is legal on the West Coast, in the Northeast and in some Great Lakes states-but illegal in the heartland. Others say it is more likely that the nation would become a patchwork with a few states where abortion is illegal, a few states where abortion is unrestricted and a majority of states where abortion is regulated to one degree or another.

No, repealing Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton will not make abortion go away. It will merely replace the national battlefront with 50 smaller battlefields, where skirmishes would pop up from time to time and pro-life resources would be spread quite thin. This, most importantly, would not save any babies. If abortion is illegal in one state, a short drive across state lines would be but a minor inconvenience to those determined to choose death for their children.

For years we have known that the legal concept of personhood must be established at the national level, and nothing will change that assertion. A federal constitutional amendment could do this, but so could a simple act of Congress.

In the Roe v. Wade ruling, Justice Harry Blackmun admitted the alleged right to abortion he found in the "penumbras and emanations" of the constitution would crumble like a house of cards if Congress ever established the fact that the preborn were legal persons with the same rights as all the rest of us.

The Supreme Court itself gave us the remedy; why don't we just follow that suggestion instead of looking for new ways to re-invent the law?

The second problematic idea making the rounds is explored, of all places, in a YouTube video. It brings back the old straw man, "You pro-lifers just want to put women in jail for having abortions." It plays into the idea that in many cases, the woman who has an abortion could be considered a victim (which flies in the face of the whole idea that abortion is merely a "choice," of course). Pro-lifers in the video were portrayed as stumbling and stammering when they were asked what the appropriate penalty would be for a woman caught having an illegal abortion.

We are not engaged in a quest to round up women who’ve had abortions and imprison them. But abortion is a crime. And because it is a crime, it is impossible to deny that crimes have consequences.

But first, we have to make it well understood to everyone involved – everyone in the nation – just what it is an abortion does. It ends the life of a living human being; not a fetus, a potential human being, a mass of tissue or a fertilized egg.

There is no need to get into a debate about what the penalty for abortion should be. Abortion is homicide, which, in plain and simple terms, is defined as one human being killing another. Existing state laws already address homicide. District attorneys study homicide cases every day and present their findings to grand juries, which then consider specific charges in such cases. Depending on the jurisdiction, you'll hear terms such as first-degree murder, second-degree murder, negligent homicide, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, etc. The penalties vary.

In addition, prosecutors have tremendous leeway in criminal cases. Back in the days when abortion was illegal, it was not uncommon for the district attorney to grant immunity to a woman involved in abortion in return for her testimony against the abortionist.

However, by getting sidetracked on questions about punishment, both sides miss the point: prior to the abortion, there is a living human being; after the abortion, there is a dead human being.

Because we as a society have lost our sense of right and wrong when it comes to abortion, we have to remind people that abortion is indeed a crime, and it is a crime in which the victim is indeed a human being – the least of our brothers and sisters, the preborn child. It is only when personhood is restored under the law to every innocent preborn child that there will be time enough to debate criminal consequences for the criminal act of abortion.

The role of the pro-life movement in America is not to say or do what is acceptable to society. Our role is to tell the truth and make people uncomfortable about legalized murder. We must not be intimidated by those who want us to argue that abortion is something other than what it is. Abortion is a dreadful criminal act.

Reminding America that abortion kills children is not a bad thing; it is the truth. And it is this truth that recognizes that the only way to end abortion is to call it by its proper name and to be prepared to secure protection for all preborn babies. That means establishing personhood so that the victimization of the most vulnerable members of the human family ends. And, please God, let that be soon.

Release issued: 16 Aug 07