31 March 2016

Why Can't We Draw Logical Conclusions from Premises Relating to Abortion?

I have violated some of my personal rules so many times in the last two days that I am driving myself crazy.  Specifically, the rule about arguing with someone about a substantive issue on Facebook, and the rule about arguing with cult-of-personality bloggers.

The visceral hatred for Donald Trump among the neo- (Cons and Caths) is so strong that they cannot argue the substance of issues. Trump said it, so it must be wrong. Or embarrassing. Or not conservative. Or something.  Drives me nuts.  

As an aside, it seems to me to be a variant of the thisPope phenomenon: "thisPope said X, and so, like an Oracle of Delphi, it must be true."  The Rex Mottram approach to the papacy. 

As you know by now, Donald Trump in a logically consistent but admittedly clumsy response to hectoring by Chris Matthews, said that women who were to knowingly procure an illegal abortion (Trump had just advocated criminalizing abortion-- did anyone catch that in the self-described pro-life community?) should face some form of punishment for doing so.

You would have thought that he had just advocated mandatory abortions for all by the reaction of the neo-Cs.  Embarrassing! Trump should stop talking about abortion! This is why I could never vote for Trump!

No, he did not have the presence of mind, nor the opportunity in that venue, to discuss the finer points about how a person's culpability in any given homicide is affected by circumstances, relative guilt, mental state, etc.  That is why it was politically clumsy.  But this is what you get when someone is willing to actually speak their mind, and to draw logical conclusions from premises.

Abortion is murder. I hear pro-lifers say this. It is true. The abortionist should face murder charges. But why would the woman get off with not even a traffic ticket's-worth of penalty?  Are we so afraid to offend-- have we so far ceded the field of truth-- that we are unmanned to make abortion illegal and to hold those who would commit it accountable?

Let me go further.  Let's assume arguendo that in order to have the best chance to criminalize abortion, we are willing to make a law that exempts the woman from punishment and focuses only on punishing the abortionists. This is a prudential decision. But why on earth would we savage any presidential candidate who takes a public position to outlaw abortion, and who happens to advocate a logical position with which we have prudential disagreements?

I am beginning to think that there are many "pro-life" versions of Al Sharpton among us. To these people the continuation of the game is more important that winning it. There has to be a pro-abortion society so that this kind of quisling pro-lifer can still do his thing.  Al Sharpton doesn't want to ever see racial equality because it puts him out of business.  Have many of us have sunk to this level? Do we want to end abortion or not?  Why do the mothers who seek to kill their babies necessarily get a free pass?

Simple question, assuming abortion were illegal, as we all say we want:  Would more abortions be prevented by a law that only punished the abortionist, or by a law that punished both the abortionist and those who hire him?

Careful.  This question requires the use of logic. And that can get you into trouble. 


Anonymous said...

Ok. I disagree a little. I try to never comment on issues where there is bound to be fight bc I find it frustrating and a waste of time but...I aborted a baby at 20. I did not want to. AT ALL. I didn't believe in God but I begged Him to keep this from happening. I wasn't physically forced but was backed into a corner and felt like I had no choice. So, would my boyfriend be charged for murder for pushing and threatening? Would me parents or my boyfriends parents be charged for also pushing me to kill my baby? How much culpability does a woman have when she is being verbally abused and threatened with abandonment if she doesn't kill her baby? With hindsight I wish I would have said no and faced what would happen after but I didn't and I can't tell you how further devestating it would have been to be charged with a crime on top of killing my baby. I probably never would have converted to Catholicism, married and had six babies. It would have broken me. Is that what we really need to advocate? Women, probably already broken being broken once more by a law that places all blame for sex/pregnancy at their feet?

Rick said...

If abortion is made an illegal act and if the doctor and the mother were agreeable to killing the fetus would that not make them co-conspirators?
I think that both should be charged with a crime.

Anonymous said...

Did St. John Paul II shoot the pro-life movement in the foot when he introduced the new Code of Canon Law with Can. 1398 in it?


Sam said...

One reason he is being "savaged", as you say, is that it was obvious that he had never really thought through his so-called position on abortion. I dare say a lot of so-called pro-lifers have never really thought through the logical consequences of their argument that abortion should be criminalized. If it is in fact murder, how can you possibly let the women off? The fact that Ted Cruz came back and said, well of course, we can never penalize the woman indicates he is, at best, a very expedient pro-lifer or, at worst, a complete cynic. So why did the Trump campaign immediately walk back the statements he made to Chris Matthews?

If people want to vote for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, go right ahead. Just don't claim you are doing so because they are pro-life and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders or not.

thetimman said...

All good points so far. Understandably Anonymous, I think that is what I meant that there are differing degrees of culpability for crimes on the books. Someone who was to a greater or lesser degree mentally non-culpable for an offense is to a greater or lesser degree not liable for that offense. I can't speak to all the circumstances in your case, but I don't think that a criminal offense for seeking to procure an abortion means that mental state and relevant factors are taken out of the equation, just like any other situation. I'm sorry for your loss, and glad you have found healing in the Church. That's what Our Lord wants.

Anonymous said...

And therein lies the problem...in all my time working with post-abortive women (and a few men) and all of my post-abortive friends and family (sadly, there are many) I don't know anyone of them that "wanted" and abortion. Not one. Even the girl having an abortion at the same time as me. She was so broken that she was numb to her 4th abortion. There is no woman who is mentally healthy that would choose this. Any woman who says otherwise is not mentally healthy...look at the poor souls that brag about or document their abortions. Do we really need to victimize someone who is already a victim? I would never argue that the baby is not the first and most innocent victim of abortion but the mother is a not too far off second. The criminals in this are the Supreme Court justices who cleared the way and uphold the lie that this is a right and an easy fix. Next are the lawmakers, doctors, nurses, and even the Bishops, priests and religious who condone or make justifications for abortion. Start with prosecuting the liars and the moneymakers and then we can talk about the women who are lied to, manipulated, and bullied. Really, ask yourselves what woman thinks it's fun to have to strip from the waist down and have doctors put a vacuum in their vagina? Bleed and cramp for days...even if they can overlook passing the tissue of their baby, it is not a fun procedure. Can we finally be honest about what kind of sickness this is to murder your own baby and maybe be a little more compassionate to the women hurting bc of it. I converted to Catholicism after reading JPII's kind words to post-abortive women. To have a man understand the brokenness of a woman choosing abortion and the damage it does to her what so healing. Sorry. Getting off soap box :)

Jane Chantal said...

Timman, I share your take on this, and particularly appreciate this observation:

No, he did not have the presence of mind, nor the opportunity in that venue, to discuss the finer points about how a person's culpability in any given homicide is affected by circumstances, relative guilt, mental state, etc. That is why it was politically clumsy. But this is what you get when someone is willing to actually speak their mind, and to draw logical conclusions from premises.

- - -

I was dismayed this morning when I saw the predictably un-nuanced headlines that, also predictably, followed on the heels of Mr. Trump's remarks. I fear that, perhaps, even now he has not yet fully taken onboard his detractors' utter indifference to anything beyond their objective of neutralizing him. He ought to have been better prepared for this -- expected it. As things stand now, I'm afraid that it may have the potential to significantly hurt him.

Jane Chantal said...


Your words are eloquent, and one can only agree that women continue to be brutalized, on a scale so enormous that it is impossible to quantify, by those many that you rightly list as sharing culpability in the crime of abortion. That reality is not adequately emphasized by the pro-life movement. God bless you for your witness and for sharing it with others who have either lived through abortion or been involved in it in other ways.

Pete said...

In thinking about the women who now have abortions though they don't want to, they do not have the "out" of it being illegal today. That is, if it were illegal and very dangerous (as if it's not today), they would face less pushing to abort. Those involved in pushing would have legal culpability. I do not want to over-generalize, but the easy availability of abortion makes it easier for jerk boyfriends and the potential grandparents to push for the abortion. It is now morally and socially acceptable to abort, so the woman who wants to say no is disregarded by her tormentors--and alleged friends/supporters. Making abortion illegal will take some power away from the abusive people in the pregnant woman's life. Who should face what charges precisely, I am not sure at this time. The doctors, for sure. Any one who pushes a woman to abort, conspires to it, yes. If the woman is not a victim of others' pressure, however, why is she not culpable to some degree? There are such things as women who don't want children. That is some thinking aloud here.

I pray for the healing of post-abortive women. Some are among my relatives as well.

Anonymous said...

Great post. We have become so incapable of speaking intelligently about morals that it's somehow horrid to speak of punishments for horrid crimes. As if women are children, and not responsible for their actions. And yes, of course, there are mitigations in these things, but seriously, are we going to exempt half of the human race from sanctions if they break the law (hypothetically speaking, for now, at least)?

marty said...

Try this. Women who get an abortion probably have a Social Security card. For every abortion that they get they will lose 25% of their Retirement or their Welfare now.

The Riopel Family said...

I was only anonymous bc I forgot my password to my google account :) Thank you both Pete and Jane Chantal. I agree that if abortion was illegal, that it would be an easier "out" for women. The woman having her 4th abortion told me that it was easier to ask the guy to pay for an abortion than to ask him to use birth control. Sad. Sad that she felt she had to settle for meaningless sex while telling herself that it wasn't (been there too) and sad that she was so numb. I am not a big fan of Pope Francis on a lot of things but his push for mercy (with truth always!) really hits home to post-aborts like myself. I honestly don't think Trump thought through his remarks. It makes sense for there to be a punishment for committing a crime but some crimes are their own lifelong punishment. No bars necessary! Have a Blessed Easter season!

Marie said...

I didn't know that the Pro-Life Movement has an agenda. Trump merely followed the thinking that if abortion is really murder, then the abortionist and the woman [if with full consent] are both culpable.

And so, as the logic goes, the woman in such a case has to be punished as well, even if it's just the penance imposed upon her by the priest during confession.

Anonymous said...

Lifenews has an article on the legal treatment by the courts when abortion was previously illegal. Worth a read.


utubeo said...

“Let's assume arguendo that in order to have the best chance to criminalize abortion, we are willing to make a law that exempts the woman from punishment and focuses only on punishing the abortionists.”

Apparently, that was the longstanding legal position:


"Based on this review of the 50 states, Linton concluded, “no American court has ever upheld the conviction of a woman for self-abortion or consenting to an abortion and, with the exception of [the Pennsylvania case from 1911 and Texas case from 1922], there is no record of a woman even being charged with either offence as a principal or as an accessory.”"

Anonymous said...

More than 55,000,000 US citizens are DEAD from women getting abortions. Yet not a single woman is responsible?

Does not the Holy Roman Catholic Church teach that abortion (aka murder) is a mortal sin and requires repentance, hence the Church offers Confession to help mitigate the PUNISHMENT that Our Triune God will impose on such a mortal sin?

Or is that too much logic?

suzanne said...

People here are forgetting what the law actually is and does. You are saying "all or nothing" regarding punitive action against(illegal) abortion participation.. Lawyers adjudicate personal culpability and accessories to the crime all of the time.
A juvenile forced to have an abortion by her parents would not be culpable at all- but her parents would.
An adult female pushed by her boyfriend may have some ,but not all culpability. Her boyfriend would certainly be implicated.
There has to be some outward punishment if our culture is expected to perceive abortion as the evil it is, instead of a constitutional "right".

Justina said...

Quite so. Moreover, if there were legal penalties attached to the immoral choice to destroy innocent unborn life, it might help post-abortive mothers to stop punishing themselves in countless ways. Perhaps The Donald is actually suggesting something that is not only logically consistent, but merciful.

utubeo said...

While doing a little more research on those two cases in 1911 and 1922, I ran across the Shirley Wheeler case of 1971 where she was uncooperative with police in turning over the abortionist, so she was prosecuted and convicted of manslaughter. That was overturned by the FL Supreme Court.

That was mentioned by Leslie Reagan in her book "When Abortion was a Crime."

That makes the article from Lifenews disappointing since it quotes:
"The pro-abortion historian Leslie Reagan, in her 1997 book When Abortion Was A Crime, admits that states did not prosecute women for their abortions and that women did not face criminal liability as principals, accomplices, conspirators, solicitors, or murderers, and concedes that the purpose behind that law was not to degrade women but to protect them."

Calls into question the quality of the work when they don't treat a case as late as 1971.

ProLIFEmommy said...

I agree with this article 100% & simply cannot thank you enough for articulating what so many know deep down in their heart, but are too concerned with political correctness to admit it. That is the great thing about Trump. I liked his answer. A LOT. It was honest, straight-forward & instinctually correct. For 40+ years, the prolife community has been too laser-beam focused on political strategy to try to win people over, that they've become their own worst enemy. Case in point: grouping ALL post-abortive women as "victims." They simply cannot see how encouraging a victimhood mentality is crippling America!

Aged parent said...

A very perceptive blog post. Many thanks.

traddadof4 said...

Nothing to say but "a beautiful, beautiful post."

If Catholics let this one get away (Trump) we will deserve everything the left was getting ready to give us until Trump happened upon the scene: economic disenfranchisement, imprisonment, and ultimately death as thought criminals.

Strongheart said...

Women in antiquity and middle ages used herbs and roots for contraception and even abortion. St. Hildegard mentioned it in her herbal book Physica. Then modern médicine and toxic patented médicine made médicine herbs illegal at the start of the 20th century and it is only recently that herbs are becoming known again, as the morality became lost. Medical are for legal abortions as it is a big pharma business.

Strongheart said...

Big Pharma are for legal abortions, contraceptive pills, which is a very lucrative business, and abstinence is not an option anymore. Women knew how to be catholic and use herb medicines to limit the number of children if they wished too. Donald Trump is not taking money from pharmaceutical companies and he is pro-life. Donald Trump is also for holistic médicine, so herbal will not be abolished again. So Donald Trump is the best choice.

Konstantin said...

Originally I decided to stay out of this discussion, but now I had a change of mind and would like to add a couple of thoughts:

Many people say (all) women that had an abortion "hurt" or go through "pain" -- but do they repent of it? That is not the same thing. Also, not all women seem to feel pain. I have a relative that had four abortions (while married) and who doesn't seem to be affected by it at all. Some women even brag about it.

Even if someone feels pain for his past crimes, does this generally mean that they should go unpunished? Nobody would say that for any other violent crime (yes, abortion is a violent crime). When Alessandro Serenelli finally repented of having murdered St. Maria Goretti three years later, nobody said he should be let out of jail. And Alessandro was well aware that he deserved doing time: "I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault".

Neither would anybody say a mother or a father should go unpunished for killing their child outside of the womb. It's just ridiculous to image a headline that reads "Mother killed toddler. No jail sentence since she feels pain."

I think Ted Bundy once said that he felt loathing after each of his crimes. I don't think anybody would say that this would have been enough to save him from being executed or even incarcerated (This doesn't mean that I think women who had abortions are like Ted Bundy or should be executed).

One last thought: A couple of months ago, a very unhappy man was arrested in Spain for having performed hundreds of "illegal" and forced abortions on female fighters as a field doctor with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Many of the underaged girls that had to undergo these forced abortions had been raped by other FARC fighters. They had also been forcibly recruited earlier. Nonetheless, quite a number of the girls and women that were chosen by this so-called doctor refused to have their child killed. Well, guess what happened? They were executed and their corpses were used as specimens in the "doctor's" training sessions for field medics. I'd say the vast majority of women in first-world countries don't risk losing their lives if they decided against aborting their child. Fear indeed is a factor that makes you less culpable, but if there are women who chose death over abortion (and they probably didn't know the Catholic Faith very well), I think any woman should be ready to face trouble with her "boyfriend" or her parents instead of opting for abortion.

All in all, I don't know what punishment women should receive for having aborted, but the argument that they should always go unpunished seems rather unfair on other people who have committed crimes that led to the physical injury/death of others and have to face time for it.