This video clip is a couple of years old — it was uploaded to YouTube in January of 2008 — but I only came across it recently via a link on Common Sense Atheism. It was filmed at an anti-abortion protest and in it women are asked a very simple question: If abortion is made illegal what should be the punishment for women who have illegal abortions?
I must admit I was stunned that so many people didn’t have an answer for this question and that many suggested there shouldn’t be any punishment beyond counseling. The interviewer asks simple, non-aggressive followup questions such as “If there’s no punishment then what’s the point of making it illegal?” which, again, they have no answer for. Or the answers they do have are contradictory and silly.
Some of these people have been involved in anti-abortion protesting for years without ever pondering the simple question of what the punishment should be. I find that staggering to consider. I guess I always just assumed they’d want the woman put in prison for a certain number of years; perhaps life or even a death sentence. There’s probably a few folks out there who would say that’s what it should be, but I hadn’t stopped to think there’d be so many who haven’t given the subject of penalties any thought whatsoever.
That’s one of the problems of letting emotions get the better of you when considering laws or pushing for change. Abortion tends to be a highly emotional issue for the folks who are against it and it appears that in their rush to do something about it they’re not taking the time to think the issue through fully and they’re willing to leave the details for someone else to figure out. That often leads to very bad policy at worse or very stupid policy at best. But then I suppose if they spent any time thinking about the issue they run the risk of changing their minds about it and Lord knows you can’t let that happen.