At a recent CNN “town hall” meeting, moderated by Chris Matthews, Donald Trump asserted that there should be some form of punishment for women who have abortions.
You can watch the video here. It isn’t long.
Quite remarkably, in these remarks Trump found a way to unite advocates and opponents of abortion. Both groups, for different reasons, strongly denounced his comments. I would expect such a reaction from those who insist on the goodness or neutrality of abortion; but I was surprised by the strong response from those who are pro-life.
It seems that most of the responses from pro-life individuals can be summed up as, “He just has no clue what he’s talking about or what we stand for.”
Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College in Louisville, KY, a man I greatly admire, wrote, “Trump’s remarks were so absurd that he unified both pro-life and pro-choice groups in their condemnation. He also proved that he has no idea what he is talking about, that he has hardly even considered what the pro-life cause is all about, and that he can’t be trusted to carry the torch for the sanctity of human life. He just doesn’t get it.”
Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, commented, “I’m just in shock. Nobody, nobody thinks it’s a good idea to imprison women for abortion.”
I want to respond, not to Trump, but to the men and women who defend life and sanity and who have my respect.
1. I do not like Donald Trump. He should not be a serious contender for the office of President of these United States of America. He doesn’t rightly understand the Constitution (or he just doesn’t care about it). He is a liar without moral scruples. He is arrogant. And I do not believe for a second that he is pro-life, in any ordinary sense of the label.
2. He hands his opponents sufficient ammunition with which to attack him that we don’t need to make a fuss over a non-issue. People turn the volume down on those who yell about everything. With Trump there is much to yell about, so let’s reserve our yelling for such instances.
3. Though I do not like how Trump communicates, if you watch the video he comes off well. Chris Matthews is just awful, and Trump is saying coherent things (for Trump).
4. If you’re going to oppose somebody, oppose them for what they actually argue. He argues that women who get an abortion should be punished in some way. He does not say that it should be jail time, nor does he say that the punishment should be of the same severity as those who perform the abortion. Responding as if he did just discredits you.
5. The messaging that women are victims of abortionists, and not perpetrators of crime, comes from feminists. And it actually seems to be quite insulting. Are we to treat adult women as if they are children, incapable of making clear moral decisions and bearing the consequences for those decisions?
6. The question asked by Chris Matthews is a good one. I’ll slightly rephrase it and consider it. “Should women who voluntarily get abortions be punished through the legal system?” Let me expand the components of the question so that confusion is minimized.
By women, I mean adult females in the eyes of the law.
By voluntarily, I mean that it is their choice to get the abortion. They have not been physically coerced to do so. I recognize that there are situations in which a woman is immensely pressured, threatened, or even lied to in order to persuade her to get an abortion. But by saying voluntarily, I am ignoring all the things that influence her decision and am simply saying that, in the case in question, she makes the decision. If she is physically coerced, then the abortion is no longer voluntary on her part.
By abortion, I mean the murder of the most vulnerable human person in human society, the unborn child.
So should a woman who decides to participate in, to help facilitate, the murder of another human being, her own child, be punished in some way? Of course she should. She is guilty of murder. The question is quite straightforward. It doesn’t demand an answer to what kind of punishment, though that should obviously be answered. It doesn’t ask about whether a deal with the D.A. should be made with her in order to better ensure the conviction of the abortionist. That would literally be case by case. The question is simply should she be punished in some way. Is abortion murder? Yes. Is this woman an adult? Yes. Did she choose to hold another human in place so that a “doctor” could dismember him or her? Yes. In fact, she may have been the one to take the fatal poison, literally performing the abortion herself.
This is not a tough ethical question, and Trump got it right.
7. Does my heart ache for women who are knocked up by men who have no intention to provide, protect, and lead a family as they ought? Yes. Does my heart ache for women who are lied to and preyed upon by an abortion industry fueled by racism and greed? Yes. Am I infuriated at the thought of women being raped or otherwise sexually abused? Yes. That said, I so respect women that I believe they are capable of making decisions for which they bear personal responsibility. In that they have much dignity.
8. Nobody is perfect. So we will all find ourselves saying things for which we need to apologize and take a different position. That said, Trump is a total loser for constantly saying one thing and then, seemingly moments later, taking a different position. Voters need to choose a man with a convictional spine.
9. Denny Burk wrote a response to Trump that disagrees with me; and it is a well-written post worth a read.