Anna Quindlen offers an interesting take on the abortion argument in a recent Newsweek article. She points out that most pro-lifers do not have a good answer when asked how much jail time they would like to see given to women who have abortions should that procedure ever be outlawed and then argues that "there are only two logical choices: hold women accountable for a
criminal act by sending them to prison, or refuse to criminalize the
act in the first place. If you can’t countenance the first, you have to
accept the second. You can’t have it both ways." Quindlen rightly observes that to only punish the doctor is to ignore and infantilize women, "turning them into ‘victims’ of their own free will. State statutes that propose punishing only a physician suggest the
woman was merely some addled bystander who happened to find herself in
the wrong stirrups at the wrong time."
Now Anna Quindlen is one of the most heartily pro-abortion columnists in the country, and her piece is clearly intended to cause people to oppose establishing anti-abortion laws. For me it had the opposite effect. I heartily agree with Quindlen’s assessment and think that we should starting treating women as more than just victims, including imposing penalties on them for having their baby killed.
What Quinlden does not seem to appreciate is that understanding women as helpless victims has been a foundation of the pro-abortion movement. They want us (and indeed need us) to see women as the victims of a patriarchal society intent on raping them and leaving them barefoot and in the kitchen. Only in that light does allowing women the "right" to have the baby that has been forced on them disposed of sound reasonable at all. And even this disposal is never spoken of as something actively done by the women. The woman is the victim all the way through, a helpless lass who is saved by a white coated vacuum wielding savior and bill-paying boyfriend.
This attitude is explicitly apparent in the Maryland story of Christy Freeman. According to AP,
Investigators trying to fill gaps in a case with daunting
legal and forensic issues returned Wednesday to the home of a woman suspected
of killing her newborn son and hiding the bodies of three other pre-term
Investigators must determine whether all four bodies found
at the home were the offspring of Christy Freeman. Freeman, who also has four
living children, has been charged in the death of one newborn found last week
wrapped in a bloodied towel under her bathroom sink.
That body was determined to have been at 26-weeks gestation.
Investigators still need to figure out how old the others were when they died,
when they died, and whether Freeman or someone else was responsible for the
The timing is critical. If the pre-term infants were too
young to be considered viable outside the womb, Freeman can’t be charged with
murder. And if they were old enough to live outside the womb, but died before Maryland passed its 2005
fetal homicide law, it may not be a crime even if Freeman caused their deaths.
So even if it is proven that Christy Freeman killed her babies, it may not be possible to charge her with a crime. Here is the reason:
The 2005 fetal homicide was designed to penalize those who
kill a pregnant woman or her viable fetus, but it includes a provision
shielding pregnant women from prosecution for actions that result in their own
fetus’s death. . . .
State Delegate Susan K. McComas, a Republican who
co-sponsored the 2005 bill, said the exemption was added by majority Democrats
who feared the bill would restrict a woman’s right to abortion. "We
weren’t contemplating a woman doing something to her own fetus," McComas
So abortion has nothing to do a woman doing something to her own fetus? That is what the pro-abortion side would have everyone accept.
Of course, as this story makes clear, that mindset is ridiculous. If someone other than the mother killing a "viable fetus" is murder, than it is murder when the mother does it to her own baby. And if it is proper to punish people for hiring someone to commit murder, than it is proper to punish mothers for hiring someone to kill their babies. To do any less is demeaning to women.
(Thanks to James Taranto at Opinion Journal for the Freeman story.)