‘ABORTION IS MURDER!’ screams the ham-faced Christian lady outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, wielding a homemade protest sign covered with icky photos of late term abortions.
‘LIFE IS SACRED!’ whines some inconsistent so-and-so while munching on a chicken sandwich.
So for the next few moments, I’ll believe them. I’ll assume for a moment that abortion is murder and should be treated as such. A few wacky conclusions that logically follow from this position:
1. Murder is a criminal act that warrants punishment. And since abortion is now classified as murder, one wonders what sort of prison sentence might be appropriate for the murderer(s) (i.e. a woman who aborts and the doctor who performs it). Interestingly enough, though, whenever I ask anti-choicers1 this question, I’m met with a blank stare.
2. If purposeful killing of a fetus/embryo is ‘murder’ and should be treated as such, it logically follows that accidental killing of a fetus/embryo is involuntary manslaughter and should be treated as such. So, one wonders what sort of prison sentence might be appropriate for a woman who miscarries because she lifted a heavy box or held a certain yoga position a bit too long. Still waiting for the answer.
3. Making exceptions for rape victims makes no sense. Clearly, if a woman were to kill her 5-year-old child, the fact that the child had been the product of a rape would be no defense. Hence, it makes no sense to take this position on abortion. Murder is murder, regardless of how the victim was conceived.
The bottom line: Murder (even accidental murder) warrants a certain response, no matter who the murder victim is. So, if abortion is murder, it warrants treatment as such. If you don’t think abortion warrants the same response as any other murder, you don’t think abortion is murder. And for some reason, I’ve not met a single person from the ‘abortion is murder’ crowd who argue for the first two positions, but I’ve met plenty2 who argue against the third. Funny, that.
Considering the fact that so many people are willing to make exceptions for rape victims (i.e. women who didn’t get pregnant as the result of having consensual, pleasurable sex), and use oddly sex-focused language (e.g. “If she didn’t want to get pregnant, she shouldn’t have spread her legs!”) to condemn women who have abortions, I suspect that there’s a strong undercurrent of slut-shaming lurking beneath everyone’s seeming concern for the poor fetuses.
1. I’m using the label ‘anti-choicers’ to distinguish between people who have ethical objections to abortion but don’t desire any restrictions on a woman’s right to have one, and people who think abortion is a criminal act (i.e. a murder). The former position isn’t inconsistent and I can be sympathetic to it, but the latter is bullshit for reasons already explained. Someone might try to weasel out of this fix by claiming that abortion isn’t ‘murder’ (i.e. criminal) but should still be outlawed for ethical reasons, but claiming that abortion isn’t criminal while also arguing that it should be illegal makes no sense, either.
2. Though not all, to be fair. Some of them are consistent and don’t make exceptions for rape victims; but they still fail on the first two counts.