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By Matt C. Abbott
Op/Ed

I guess I should be flattered that an abortion "rights" activist - and the director of an abortion "rights" organization -- even bothered to read my column. Not only that, but she sent me the following lengthy e-mail in response to my column "The abortion-seeking woman: perpetrator or victim?" (I won't use her real name and organization, as I obviously don't want to give her free advertising. Also, I did do a bit of editing, but not much - mostly deleting the links she included throughout her e-mail, plugging her organization's Web site.)

"I'm glad to see someone on your side more or less own the consequences of a decades long declaration that abortion is murder.

"I do have a couple of bones to pick with you though.

"First, you have to be very careful about giving passes to women who claim they are coerced into having an abortion. You used some code phrases. You said 'not all abortion-seeking women are perpetrators.' You emphasized 'all.' Then you said you believe in 'some cases the abortion-seeking woman is indeed the perpetrator.'(I added the emphasize on some). Your side has always bemoaned the Doe ruling that allowed health exceptions for women seeking abortions claiming that opened up a big hole yet now you come proposing a similar opening for women to justify 'murdering their babies?'

"We don't give many passes to women who murder or solicit the murder of their battering husbands so why would we give passes to most all - as your wording indicates - women who 'claim' they were coerced by a boyfriend, parent, or husband? And what would constitute a level of coercion that could be used to justify 'murdering their baby?' Wouldn't all these women you would see as being coerced have had other options like calling the police to report it, calling a so-called crisis pregnancy center - or just leave the home so as to avoid being 'coerced'? With other options available to them why would we even consider giving but just a small handful an exemption to facing life in prison or in states like Texas the death penalty for 'murdering their baby?'

"Either abortion is murder or it isn't and if it is we can no more allow exemptions for women and teenage girls to 'murder' their baby than we can allow women to murder a battering spouse.

"So, what you should have said is that there may be occasions in which coercion rises to the legal level in which - not out right acquittal is in order - but perhaps leniency is in order and even fewer occasions in which acquittals may be in order. Your sides idea that women are mere victims of everyone else including an abortion provider is demeaning to women. Even when abortion was illegal before in our country, women weren't victims of an illegal abortionist - a good one or a bad one - they were victims of the law that forced this medical procedure into the underground. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of women make the decision daily to have an abortion and there is absolutely no coercion from any one involved. They believe they aren't financially or emotionally prepared to parent and THEY decide all on their own to have an abortion.

"The fact is that in spite of your seeming 'support' for punishing women and teenage girls for having an illegal abortion, you left yourself too much wiggle room with words like 'some' and 'not all' for me take you seriously that you really believe we ought to punish women and teenage girls for 'murdering their babies.' You mislead yourself and the reading public with your claim that in 'some cases' the woman is the perpetrator when the truth is sir, it's only in 'some cases' the woman ISN'T the perpetrator.

"Matt, you can't prosecute a husband, parent, or boyfriend or any other person for 'convincing' a woman to have an abortion any more than you can prosecute a worker at a so-called crisis pregnancy for 'convincing' a woman not to have an abortion. If a person holds a gun to her head as she has an abortion that's a different matter but there's no way we can enforce the type of law you are suggesting.

"You said that for pro-lifers to 'portray all abortion seeking women as victims is a case of misguided compassion.' Matt, it isn't about misguided anything. They know the public will not stand for prosecuting and imprisoning women and teenage girls most particularly for first trimester abortions that the public believes should always remain legal so the pro-life movement's reaction is to ignore the challenges made by Quindlin. We've been making this challenge where ever we go for years now.

"Pro-lifers never thought their knee-jerk declaration that abortion IS murder would ever force them to own, accept, embrace, follow through on and answer for the inevitable consequences of declaring abortion IS murder. They now want to distance themselves and disown that inevitable consequence and you don't help by suggesting that most abortion-seeking women are coerced and lulling the public into thinking that most women should never be punished or most will never be punished. That simply won't be the case and I think you know that Matt.

"There are other consequences to declaring abortion is murder that 'pro-lifers' have failed to take into account and now must. How do you prove a woman has had an illegal abortion? Well her medical records become open to police, prosecutors, jurors, and the media. No more medical confidentiality for any woman including any woman in your life Matt. Next, a GYN hired by 'the STATE' will have to do a pelvic exam to collect evidence to convict an abortion provider and the woman herself. (By the way, most women who died pre-Roe Matt, died from self-induced illegal abortion). Maybe you should have a discussion with the women in your life about this inevitable consequence to once again criminalizing abortion because it IS murder.

"Next let's not forget about the trials. Different today than in the early 20th century is what? - Today we can beam those trials around the world in a nano second via the Internet and Court TV. Talk about fodder for reality TV, producers looking for a new sensation will have a field day. These trials can't help but become extremely sexualized putting women's sexuality on trial as well as their abortions. Discuss this consequence too with the women in your life. Mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends, sisters, and teenage daughters will have to face this inevitable consequence.

"Finally, Matt, consider this. Do pro-lifers care about born children as much as they care about unborn fetuses? Think about this. Six out of 10 women who have abortions are mothers. IF abortion IS murder then tens of thousands of mothers will face life in prison and will leave their children motherless. What will happen to our society and our families when tens of thousands of mothers go to prison because anti-abortion zealots got their way and criminalized abortion because it IS murder? What is 'pro-life' about that consequence and where does that leave an anti-abortion movement steeped in so-called 'family values?'

"Do you think there's a better way to reduce the number of abortions in this country? A way that won't endanger the lives of women and teenage girls and which would not make criminals out of mothers? We can reduce the number of abortions by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies.

"Matt, either abortion IS murder or it ISN'T. If 'pro-lifers' now can't own and embrace ALL the consequences of criminalizing abortion because it IS murder as wholeheartedly as they own and embrace the declaration that abortion IS murder then maybe - just maybe abortion ISN'T murder. It may very well be that forcing the pro-life movement to reckon with these consequences - ALL these consequences - they'll have to conclude that abortion ISN'T murder. What do you think?"

Whew!

Judie Brown, president of American Life League (www.all.org), was gracious enough to provide me with the following response to "Jane."

"As someone who has met young women whose parents have not only pressured them into abortion but lied to get them into an abortionist's office, I find it hard to make sense of [Jane's] diatribe. I think she is tossing a red herring into the mix, and would counter her blather with a couple of comments.

"Because we are well aware of the criminal justice system and the way it works, we know there are accomplices to murder, and that those individuals who are tried under that description have varying degrees of guilt in the actual act of murder. The same might well apply not only to the mother, but to the father of the child, the parents of the expectant mother and the nurses in the abortionist's employ. Those details will be worked out after personhood is established and abortion is defined as an act of murder under the law.

"Jane equates protecting the expectant mother and her baby from the abortionist (which the crisis pregnancy centers do) with the people who take her through the process and finalize it by murdering her baby. If that's not a case of mixing apples and oranges, I'm a monkey! Jane should get real.

"Nobody knows what the public would stand if personhood for the pre-born child were established and abortion were defined as a crime, and it would not matter anyway. Abortion is an act of murder, regardless of what the law says, what the polls say or what pro-aborts say and our commitment to factual and objective truth has nothing to do with pandering to public opinion. No legitimate pro-lifer wants to distance himself or herself from facts and one of those facts is that abortion is murder and those found guilty of committing such an act will have to pay the price.

"Jane is fearful that one day soon abortion will be criminalized, personhood will be established for all pre-born children from the moment their lives begin, and the birth control-abortion cartel will be exposed for the ugly, deceptive, money-grabbing business it actually is. She can rant all she wants; civil people will do what is right once we get those babies defined as members of the human race under the law.

"Personally, since I know that pro-life Americans do care passionately about the care and love that is due every vulnerable human being, born and pre-born, I really have to wonder about someone who can write hundreds of words in opposition to something so very logical and simple. If only Jane had the ability to see the child as the victim, the mother as a mother and the act of abortion as murder."

Amen!

__________________

(Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com)

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