Monday, August 27, 2007
Some uncomfortable questions about abortion
One of my sons has just dawn my attention to this thought-provoking, six-minute-long YouTube posting, featuring a polite, off-screen interviewer asking anti-abortion activists at a demonstration in the U.S. earlier this summer a very good set of questions, which can be summed up as:
1. Do you think abortion should be illegal? (The answer was invariably Yes).
2. OK, then, if abortion becomes illegal, what do you think the penalty should be for a woman who has an abortion?
It's a logical and pertinent question, but not a single one of the demonstrators had a well-thought-out answer. Most of them initially suggested that the woman would have to answer to God, but then later displayed some discomfort when the interviewer pointed out that if abortion were simply a matter between a woman and God, then there was no reason to make it illegal.
It should be noted that one of the demonstrators suggested that the interviewer talk to the event's organizer for a detailed policy response. Either the interviewer failed to do so or he chose to omit the interview from the posting.
The demonstrators showed admirable honesty and also displayed commendable empathy for women who find themselves in so deep a personal crisis that they choose to abort their children. Nevertheless, I was taken aback by the obvious gap in the pro-life platform when it comes to sentencing. Indeed, I cannot recall hearing the issue discussed in Canada, for example, in the decade and a half since the Senate killed the Mulroney government's abortion-regulation bill. And I have to admit I personally haven't given it much thought.
So, are pro-lifers hypocrites for, on one hand, calling abortion "murder," but on the other hand appearing to not have the fortitude to demand murder-like sentences for women who abort their unborn children? If so, does this signify that the abortion question is really a moral one, not a legal one?
Is the more culpable criminal in an abortion actually the abortionist? If so, is the mother really another victim?