Skip to main content

Abortion Questions

I have come to accept that there are many thoughtful, intelligent people who firmly believe — as I do not — that abortion is murder. I further accept that there is no moral or philosophical argument I can offer that will convince them otherwise.

I would, however, like to offer some practical arguments, which I have not yet seen thought through, or even brought up. If we end up, as we might, in a situation where Roe v. Wade is overturned, what would an actual ban on abortion look like? What would be the challenges to implementing such a ban? How does one go about making government responsible for policing women’s bodies?

Because if Roe is overturned, what we certainly will not see is an overarching federal ban — no foreseeable Congress would even consider it. So it will fall to each state to create its own abortion laws. Inevitably, some states will ban abortion altogether.

But a ban at the state level will most likely require an expansion of state government to accommodate what will surely be a dramatic increase in criminal activity. These states will need more police, more courts, and more prisons. Strapped state budgets will need to adjust.

Because laws do not stop abortions. They reduce access. They encourage dangerous workarounds. They turn ordinary citizens into criminals. But even in countries like Honduras — where any abortion, for any reason, is an aggressively-enforced crime — an estimated 80,000 women per year still manage to end unwanted pregnancies. Despite hair-raising risks.

So regardless of how strict the enforcement, let’s stipulate that the demand for abortion will continue to be brisk, even as the supply becomes illegal.

This is a movie we’ve seen many times. Just as in Prohibition, just as in the “War on Drugs,” the supply of an illicit product will always rise to meet the demand. This creates new kinds of criminals at every point in the supply chain, and society will need to decide how much enforcement it wants. But you can’t have an effective ban without bringing criminals to justice. What’s a crime without punishment?

So with all this in mind, here are some serious questions for those who would ban abortion outright:

Do you believe abortion is first-degree murder? Since premeditation is a given, should a conviction carry the same punishment as other first-degree murders, i.e. life imprisonment or the death penalty? If it’s not first-degree murder, then what is it? Will murder of the unborn carry more or less punishment than murder of the born?

Do you support taxpayer dollars allocated to the enforcement of abortion laws? If your state needs to raise income or sales taxes to pay for it, would you support that? Would you divert money from other areas of state government? Would you move resources from, say, the state’s Covid response to pursue abortion suspects?

Would you earmark state funding for policing and prosecution? Will police be trained in forensic gynecology? Will interrogation rooms be retrofitted with gynecological equipment? Will a uterus be considered a crime scene? Will an officer need a warrant to inspect such a crime scene?

Would you expand the judicial system to accommodate large numbers of new cases? Would you hire more judges and support staff? Would you put more public defenders on the payroll? Would you build more courtrooms?

What evidentiary standards would you establish? Can a suspect be held in custody because her uterus holds evidence of a crime? Would a judge — or a prosecutor — be able to order surgery to find evidence of a suspected abortion?

Would you expand the prison system to take on expected offenders? As convicted murderers, would they join the general prison population with other murderers? Or would they be a separate class of prisoner?

If a single mother is convicted and imprisoned, will the state take responsibility for her other children? Should the state commit to maintaining those children for the duration of her sentence? If not, how do you propose to take care of them?

As abortion pills become increasingly available and legal worldwide, how would you restrict access? Since most pills will be ordered online — mostly from states where it’s legal — how will you cut off that supply?

Would simple possession of abortion pills be a crime, or would they need to be ingested first? Will the seller of the pill be as liable as the buyer? Which is the greater crime — selling the pills or using them?

How would you handle the influx of unwanted babies who will surely be given up for adoption? Will they become wards of the state? Will adoption services be ramped up to accommodate them? Will orphanages make a comeback? Is the state, or any other entity, prepared to provide long-term care for a significant number of parentless children?

I understand that I am applying rational standards to an emotional issue. But in this case, the emotional issue has huge practical consequences. Because if you truly believe in the criminalization of abortion as a societal imperative, then you must be prepared to administer its enforcement.

But the long, sordid history of black markets would argue against the success of imposing another layer of government control over personal behavior.

So especially for those who purport to want less government in people’s lives, is a ban on abortion really worth it?

Comments

  1. If you believe fetal life is a "human life" with tremendous value, and you are also rational, you probably would support either criminal / civil penalties that could be enforced, probably short of imprisonment of medical personnel or the woman carrying an unwanted fetus. Perhaps suspending or pulling medical licenses and other monetary fines.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Dobbs is Just the Bludgeon We’ve Been Looking For

I recently had occasion to engage in a brief political discussion with a bright and well-spoken woman in her mid-twenties. She was clearly perturbed at what she considered the failure of Democrats to push through the progressive agenda she and her generation have long been promised. I felt her pain, knowing how hard the next twenty or thirty years will be for her age group, not just in this country, but planetwide. She will surely be a witness to spontaneous atrocities, environmental calamities, and a competition for dwindling resources that will reduce many of her fellow humans to savagery. At the same time, I was embarrassed — as I often am — that I’m passing along to her a nation in far worse shape than it was when I found it. Even so, I felt she was being a bit hard on the Democrats in power, most of whom have, more or less, behaved admirably in pursuing basically the same agenda as hers, even as they remain shackled to a constitutional system on the very c

Putin’s Information Bubble Springs a Leak

The cat is out of the bag. The Russian citizenry can now be quite sure there’s a real war on, with real people dying. Something about a 300,000-man military draft — more likely a million — serves to focus the mind. It was only a matter of time before even the most brainwashed of parents would figure out that their sons were highly likely to be blown to pieces sometime soon. Who would have thought Putin’s hermetically-sealed information bubble would be pierced, not by liberals or intellectuals or human rights activists, but by the militant right? I suppose it does make a certain weird sense. The left has either fled the country, gone to jail, or — in most cases — opted to shut up and lay low for a decade or so. So it’s the far right that, curiously, is giving Putin the most heartburn. Specifically, it’s the ultra-militarist bloggers on Telegram — boasting millions of followers — who are reporting from the front lines of the war. And they’re telling it like it

They’re Using ‘Trump’ and ‘Espionage’ in the Same Sentence

It isn’t every day that a former president gets investigated for espionage. One more first for Donald Trump. Yes, we’ve all been titillated by every sordid new development in the ongoing saga of the Mar-a-Lago files. But the big question, at least for me, remains: What was he thinking? Why would he take state secrets out of the White House, knowing full well it’s a felony? Not that he’s a stranger to felonies, but still. The press has focused mainly on the make-believe theories thrown up by the wingnut right to explain away the obvious. But I’ve not seen much on the espionage angle itself. Which is strange. Because the very word ‘espionage’ puts an unmistakably sinister spin on Trump’s motives. It’s not a word that either CIA or DOJ throws around a lot. But it’s a word both are using. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Trump it’s that life is about transactions, about trading favors. He is, by nature, a quid in search of the perfect pro quo. So while we don’t know how s