Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Pro-Criminalization and inconsistency in the abortion debate

The big chat yesterday (outside the turdblossom/McClellan/NBCs David Gregory has real testicles excitement) was the videotaped interviews with some abortion protesters in Libertyville, IL. Lauren thought it was interesting to what as the protesters admitted they hadn't even thought about punishment of the women seeking/having abortions after they succeed in making abortion illegal. Bitch Ph.D. was heartened by the comments
The video suggests that a lot of anti-abortion protesters do not think that abortion should actually be illegal; the interviewees want abortion to be "illegal" in a rhetorical sense because they want it to be socially disapproved of.
I'm not heartened in the least, and respectfully disagree with her. As I stated in my first comment to Lauren's post (and reiterated in a comment on Liberal Avenger) the statements made by these protesters show that these people do not think their decisions completely through. They do not consider the consequences and are easily flustered when faced with inconsistencies in their own position. Mind you, they will still vote to ensure abortion is made illegal because they believe it’s wrong, as they would be willing to vote for anything else to be made illegal if you whip them into a religious frenzy to make them believe that by not banning something you endorse it and encourage it. They are, for the most part, sheeple and it explains the extreme hyposcrisy and inconsistency in their beliefs/actions.

Abortion was made illegal in Romania under Ceacescu's rule. There were slight variations in the laws over the years between 1966 and 1984, but for the most part, the Romanian laws were actually more consistent and, in some ways, less punitive than what's suggested by those who want to ban/criminalize abortion in the US. Romanian reproductive laws were based on the same arguments the Pro-Criminalization movement uses in the US today (including the economic ramifications of decreased population growth of a country's citizens). The text below is a general outline of the reproductive laws/requirements under Ceacescu; red font indicates where Romanian rules/allowances differ from what the current Pro-criminalization platform in the US is:

Restricted access to contraception and limitation of abortion to: pregnancy that is imminently life-threatening to the mother; pregnancy resulting from rape or incest; one parent suffered from a serious hereditary disease or a disease likely to cause serious congenital malformations; the pregnant woman suffered from a serious physical, mental, or sensory disorder; advanced maternal over age 45; or the pregnant woman had given birth to at least four children that were under her care. Except in the case of a life-threatening situation, abortions will have to be approved by a medical board and be performed in the first trimester in a specialized unit. Women who obtain illegal abortions, and those who perform them, will be subject to fines and imprisonment.

Additionally all women of reproductive age will be required to undergo regular gynecological examinations at their place of employment. Pregnant women will be monitored until delivery, doctors were required to report all women who became pregnant and gynecological wards were under continuous surveillance. Investigations were carried out to determine the cause of all miscarriages.
It's important to note that Romania allowed exceptions when significant fetal defect was a possibility and for the health of a mother. All parties involved in an illegal abortion were treated as criminals for breaking the law. I believe there were also some financial penalties for not having children and incentives for having more children (though not enough for families to be able to raise those children, many of whom were put up for adoption and - due to the sheer volume of children put up for adoption, many languished in orphanages and/or failed to thrive). As it would be easy for a woman to hide a pregnancy in order to terminate it illegally, they resorted to routine gynecological examinations. "Poorly worded" legislation has already been proposed (see John Cosgrove's proposed amendment to VA HB-1677) in this country that could easily lead us down that slippery slope (I would not be suprised if some state didn't already have a law on the books that looks like Cosgrove's suggested amendment, the situation is exacerbated by many states defining fetus incorrectly as the products of conception).

The point is, as Liberal Avenger clearly addresses and Bitch Ph.D. suggests, that people need to be aware of the whole situation and consider the ramifications of legislating activities, especially when it comes to banning them. Thinking something is wrong, offensive and/or an affront to G-d is a reason to avoid engaging in that activity and discouraging your friends/family from doing so. It is not, necessarily, a reason to ban or criminalize it. If you are going to criminalize something, you must be prepared to enforce that with a punishment that is commensurate with the crime. Since the reason behind the Pro-criminalization stance is a belief that abortion is murder, then a woman/couple seeking to terminate a pregnancy illegally should be treated as any other head conspirator utilizing a "hit man" to commit a pre-meditated murder for hire. Additionally, if abortion is a pre-meditated murder of an innocent human being, it cannot be permitted legally except for verifiable/documentable cases of self-defense which, in this case, would be a clear threat to the life of the mother as documented by the physicians who would be permitted to perform an abortion procedure legally under those circumstances. There really is no middle ground, either abortion should be made illegal as described above with penalties applied all parties engaged in the activity or it should remain legal and treated as a private medical decision made between a woman/couple and the treating physician.

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