The Donald Kicks the Elephant in the Pro-Life Room

The Donald has a point: if abortion ought to be illegal, why shouldn't the woman who get one be guilty of a crime? And why hasn't the pro-life movement advocated for punishing a woman who gets an abortion?

The pro-life/pro-choice conversation has been going on for decades. But I can't think of a time, ever, when a politician has proposed that the woman who undergoes an illegal abortion should be punished.

Until, that is, Donald Trump kicked the elephant in the pro-life room last week. Thanks to Trump, the elephant is out there for all to see: why don't anti-abortion activists want women prosecuted along with abortion providers?

The Donald has an uncanny ability to upset the apple cart. Thanks to him, the Republican Party, once it regroups, will never be the same again. The same might now be true for the pro-life movement.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Trump some tough questions in an interview last week. When he asked whether a woman who has an illegal abortion would be criminally responsible along with the abortion provider, Trump said "yes."

"There has to be some form of punishment," Trump said. What that punishment should be, Trump couldn't say.

Trump later backed off that position, stating "the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman."

But his retraction came too late. The scales had already fallen from my eyes. Before the Matthews interview, I (and a lot of other Americans?) had not noticed how the pro-life movement -- politicians and religious leaders alike -- propose to give a pass to the woman who gets an illegal abortion. It very carefully puts the entire criminal onus on the -- faceless -- provider.

I'm guessing that this strategy -- never talked about, never copped to -- is designed to keep rank-and-file pro-life women from disaffecting.

After all, if you are seeking to take away a woman's right to decide what goes on in her body, you don't tell women voters that you plan to make abortion a crime that could send them to prison -- or worse. If abortion is murder, as some folks claim, what would be the fitting punishment? Five years in jail? Life? The death penalty? And how many hundreds of thousands of women each year would have to be prosecuted?

BTW, Donald Trump Is Not Smart

One other thing about Trump. He's not fit to be president. Why? Because he's not smart.

Matthews went on to ask Trump whether "the man" should be punished if an illegal abortion takes place. Donald's response was, no, the man should not be punished.


I'm not much of a legal mind, but even I can see that if a man knows nothing about an illegal abortion, he hasn't committed a crime. But if he assists in arranging an illegal abortion or helps pay for it, he's clearly an accessory to the crime. And by Donald's dim lights he, too, should be punished.

Donald Trump might, once again, be able to bloviate his way out of this tight spot. But what about the clergy and politicos and activists of the pro-life movement whose pragmatic, but flawed, logic has been exposed?

c 2016 Barbara Falconer Newhall. All rights reserved.