"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, April 04, 2016

Trump and the Hunter's Snare

Recently, Donald Trump made a statement about punishing women for trying to get an abortion. While he has walked those remarks back, many of his supporters continue to insist that Trump was essentially correct - women should be punished for abortion.

Here is the transcript of Trump's abortion remarks, with the relevant portion below:

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman.
TRUMP: Yeah, there has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?
TRUMP: I don’t know. That I don’t know. That I don’t know.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
TRUMP: I don’t know.
MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.
TRUMP: Because I don’t want to -- I frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position.
MATTHEWS: But you say, one, that you’re pro-life, meaning you want to ban it.
TRUMP: But wait a minute, wait a minute. But the Catholic Church is pro-life.
MATTHEWS: No, let’s not talk about my religion.

Has the pro-life side (a) ever said women should be punished and (b) displayed inconsistency by saying women should not be punished? After all, if it is murder, shouldn't the one attempting murder be punished?

The answers are (a) no, no state in the Union has ever prosecuted a woman for attempting to have an abortion, nor has the pro-life side ever attempted to get that to happen and (b) no, it is not inconsistent to say that the abortionist should be punished while the woman should not be.

Consider: a man who attempts suicide has, according to pro-life principles, also attempted to commit murder. So has anyone who assists such a man in his suicide attempt. Yet pro-lifers have always insisted that only doctors who assist suicide (e.g., Dr. Kevorkian) should be prosecuted, not the man who attempts it or who hires Dr. Kevorkian to assist him in completing it.

For those who insist Trump is correct to punish women, I ask a simple question: would you also support prosecuting and punishing those who attempt suicide?

And for those who do not like this analogy, keep in mind what Planned Parenthood itself celebrates as a pro-abortion attitude:

In a magazine article some years ago I wrote, “No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.”
To my surprise, this line revealed a place of agreement in the midst of the deadlock. Not only was it quickly picked up by sympathetic pro-lifers, but it was “Quote of the Week” in Planned Parenthood’s Public Affairs Action Letter, and “Quote of the Month” in the Pro-Choice Network newsletter. Apparently pro-choice partisans could agree with pro-lifers that, no matter what their political differences, abortion was a miserable choice.

We don't punish people who are trapped by the hunter's snare. We punish the people who ensnared them.

Trump answered as a pro-abort Democrat imagines a pro-lifer would answer. He is wrong, and all who agree with him are wrong.

2 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

I believe we have lost the moral vocabulary to even discuss these things. All we talk about is law.

But the fact is, we do recognize there is a sin or a crime or both in "fetal abuse," such as taking drugs while pregnant.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93022&page=1

If we table the first trimester, Americans have a strong consensus that abortion after that is not acceptable. Aborting the baby, or as Hillary accidentally called it, an "unborn person" is a crime against nature. For the moment, the discussion should reside there, rather than abstractions and legalities.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/01/23/second_trimester_abortion_polls_even_pro_choicers_support_a_20_week_ban.html

[And yes, prosecuting suicide always seemed a bit silly. But for society to endorse it carries its own moral complications. And now with new "Death with Dignity" laws, we have indeed made doctors dispensers not only of life but of death.]



Tim Kowal said...

How badly truncated our moral reasoning is when it is forced to fit the shape of legal doctrine! Suicide, while prohibited by law, cannot be said to seek to “control” certain behavior, for who do we suspect would be deterred by something so trivial as law having found nothing of value in the whole balance of life? Instead, laws stand as a symbol of our collective conscience; they are part of the fabric of the legal culture, and inform litigants and judges in understanding the ends the law is meant to serve -- what we shorthand as "justice." But in a legal culture without an underlying actual culture, without an underlying moral vocabulary, reduces everything to rights-talk, and sees abortions and ice-cream cones as just different rights to be decided in basically the same way.

Nice post.