Crime and No Punishment

I’ve seen this video before, but not for a while, and I’m not sure I ever put it up here. It’s from a post titled “How to Stump Anti-Abortionists With One Question,” at Unreasonable Faith:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD97OVJ4PNw&eurl=http://unreasonablefaith.com/2009/01/21/how-to-stump-anti-abortionists-with-one-question/&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

19 Responses to “Crime and No Punishment”

  1. I waited all day to watch this, and now that I have…

    EPIC FAIL

  2. DrGail says:

    That was freaky — I live right next door to Libertyville IL and I recognized all the backdrops but thankfully I didn’t know any of the people.

    This was such a simple question to ask of the anti-choice folks, I wonder why no one ever does? It’s like when Jon Stewart asked Mike Huckabee (after he had insisted that being gay is a choice) how old he was when he chose to be a heterosexual.

  3. Kathy says:

    Wow, Gail, that IS freaky! But I’m glad to know there’s at least one pro-choice person either in or near Libertyville!

    And Kyle, what the &%$%^ are you talking about?

  4. gcotharn says:

    A good question for Pro Life persons to consider; and a question for individual states to decide. Before Roe v Wade, states punished providers and had mercy on women who aborted their pregnancies. Maybe it’s happened, but I’m unaware of instances where women who aborted their pregnancies have ever been punished by the criminal justice system.

  5. EPIC FAIL: The pro life music is old and legion, and they haven’t managed to consider the most basic question that their cause brings up. If something is going to be made illegal, what punishment shall be defined for the crime?

  6. gcotharn says:

    Illegal does not automatically require criminal penalty. If you are implying it does, you are engaged in logical fallacy, imo.

  7. tas says:

    Illegal does not automatically require criminal penalty.

    *facepalm*

  8. gcotharn says:

    I assume your question is:
    Why, if you do not wish to criminally punish, do you nevertheless wish to make it illegal?

    The moment life begins is a mystery. The same mystery which prompts us to turn away from abortion also prompts us to turn away from criminal penalty. We can make law which addresses mystery and cautiously protects life, yet we do not want a criminal penalty to be based upon a mystery.

    I used to be Pro Choice. I respect everyone’s right to their opinion.

  9. Kathy says:

    and a question for individual states to decide.

    Wrong.Roe v. Wade established that privacy is a constitutional right. Constitutional rights are not optional and cannot be delegated to individual states to decide.

    Maybe it’s happened, but I’m unaware of instances where women who aborted their pregnancies have ever been punished by the criminal justice system.

    I don’t believe you were ever pro-choice. You don’t get the most basic principles underlying abortion rights, as demonstrated by your utterly clueless statement above.

    Laws that criminalize abortion, thus forcing women to obtain illegal abortions, which by definition are done under unsafe conditions, which stigmatize and humiliate and traumatize the woman — not to mention that many women have died from botched illegal abortions — are inherently punitive. When abortion is illegal and women have to risk their lives to get one, that IS the punishment.

    The moment life begins is a mystery. The same mystery which prompts us to turn away from abortion also prompts us to turn away from criminal penalty. We can make law which addresses mystery and cautiously protects life, yet we do not want a criminal penalty to be based upon a mystery.

    This is possibly the stupidest thing you have ever written here — and that’s a very high bar.

    Mystery about the beginnings of life means you keep abortion a matter of personal and private choice. Why would you force women to adhere to one particular idea about when life begins when there IS no definitive answer to when life begins?

    If you don’t “want a criminal penalty to be based upon a mystery,” then why would you want to make abortion illegal based upon a mystery?

    Oh, and this: “I respect everyone’s right to their opinion.”

    You respect everyone’s right to their opinion, but you’re going to force everyone else to live their lives according to your opinion?

    With apologies to Joni Mitchell, Where’s that at?

  10. Kathy says:

    To Kyle: Ohhh, okay. I get it now.

  11. tas says:

    This is possibly the stupidest thing you have ever written here — and that’s a very high bar.

    Shall we call in the fine folks at Guiness for verification?

  12. gcotharn says:

    Isn’t it obvious the sudden discovery of a “constitutional right to privacy” could be overturned almost as easily as it was instituted? I don’t know how likely that is, but isn’t it obvious it could happen?

    I say: Women who had illegal abortions have traditionally not been punished by our criminal justice system. I make it clear I agree with that policy.
    You reply: Submitting to an illegal abortion is punishment in itself!
    I agree, but how is your observation relevant? The topic was: What should be the criminal punishment? My answer was: Nothing.

    If you don’t “want a criminal penalty to be based upon a mystery,” then why would you want to make abortion illegal based upon a mystery?

    It’s scientific mystery. In this instance, it’s proper to make laws based on cultural mores; improper to impose penalties based on scientific mystery.

    You respect everyone’s right to their opinion, but you’re going to force everyone else to live their lives according to your opinion?

    Am I going to participate in democracy and support laws I believe in? Sure I am. Sure you are. Sure we all are.

    Re “forcing”
    I respond: democracy; free will. My fellow citizens are not helpless victims. Even the poorest Americans could take the Mexican routes to Canada, if they wished.

  13. Kathy says:

    Shall we call in the fine folks at Guiness for verification?

    Do we really need to?

  14. Kathy says:

    You reply: Submitting to an illegal abortion is punishment in itself! (your itals)

    No, that was not my reply.

    This was my reply:

    When abortion is illegal and women have to risk their lives to get one, that IS the punishment.

    I agree, but how is your observation relevant? The topic was: What should be the criminal punishment? My answer was: Nothing.

    The relevance is as follows: Your answer: nothing, makes no sense, because the punishment cannot be “nothing,” because there already is a punishment that is inherent in the illegality of the abortion.

    Therefore, your answer, “Nothing,” to the question, “Should there be a criminal punishment for women who have illegal abortions?” makes no sense.

    But then what else is new?

  15. Dynamic says:

    I’m not sure how to italicize (computers are not my thing), so my quoting will be ugly. My apologies in advance.

    I’ve never seen this video, and I think it’s a fine one. Too many in the pro-life movement are simply parroting back what they’ve learned. Abortion bad! God good! It’s good to force them to think it through.

    That said, the obvious answer to my mind would be rehabilitation or counselling, a punishment of sorts that we already offer to a multitude of low-end crimes. The decision to have an abortion is likely to be prompted by a variety of factors, many out of the control of the prospective parent, and helping people get to the heart of the matter would be a good start. I’m not willing to take abortion completely off the table, which I believe would preclude the vast majority of illegal abortions before they even start, but obviously there are still going to be exceptions.

    I believe that abortion is something that isn’t going to go away anytime soon; we should learn to deal with it rather than make it illegal across the board with, as this video so succinctly shows, absolutely no thought to the consequences. At the same time, you said:

    gcotharn: “It’s scientific mystery. In this instance, it’s proper to make laws based on cultural mores; improper to impose penalties based on scientific mystery.”

    And this is also not true. Science has a very clear definition of life in all its forms and stages. Any biologist can tell you that a human life begins at conception, and human development continues from that point right until death. There isn’t any arbitrary point at which a human “becomes” alive; people are free to disagree with this, but it’s pretty difficult to get around the science of it.

    The solution, to my mind, is as follows:

    A) Legislation limiting abortion to cases of rape, or where the mother’s life is jeopardized by the impending birth. It is not our place to decide which life is more important, but it is our place to decide that all life is important.

    B) A dissociation of abortion politics from religious dogma. I realize this is never going to happen, but the picture is heavily muddied because of the religious folks who simply don’t think things through and would rather shout and pray, often simultaeneously, with exactly as much effect as you’d expect.

    C) An end to abstinence-only education. Genuine sex-ed works; abstinence only doesn’t. Again, you can’t avoid the numbers here. I’m abstinent and waiting til marriage – and I’ve met precisely one other person in my life that is the same. Neither of us made that decision because of any courses we took in school. If we don’t teach kids about sex, it’s not like they’re not going to figure it out – but what they won’t have is a basic understanding of contraceptives and other risk-reduction behaviours. And guess what? That increases abortion.

    Perhaps most importantly, I believe that it’s important to keep an open mind about the topic and listen to the other side – and, in the hope that they’ll do the same, it’s important to keep your points cogent, well-reasoned, and polite, rather than screaming them at passersby on the corner. My beliefs on this and many other subjects have evolved over the years, and it’s important to keep that possibility in the front of your mind.

  16. gcotharn says:

    Dynamic,
    Thoughtful. I disagree some, but thoughtful.

  17. gcotharn says:

    Kathy,
    When the video question What should be the punishment? is asked, the question is about criminal punishment. No one disputes that illegal abortion is it’s own type of punishment – it’s just not criminal punishment.

  18. Kathy says:

    Dynamic,

    Your points are thoughtfully and intelligently made, and I can respect them, although I disagree with your conclusions on abortion (but you knew that!). Where I stand is that there will never be a way to make abortion illegal “except if the mother’s life is threatened” without privileging the fetus’s “right” to live over the woman’s. Abortion is always potentially life-threatening, by definition, and where it does not directly threaten a woman’s life, it can threaten a woman’s health in countless ways, some of them very consequential. To draw a line between “health” and “life” in the context of carrying a pregnancy to term and make a distinction between the two and say they are two separate things that can be distinguished from each other and evaluated on their own separate merits is just false. It’s a deeply misleading distinction.

    The other piece, of course, is, Who gets to decide whether a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life? Who gets to decide if a pregnancy endangers a woman’s health severely enough to need an abortion? Who defines severity when it comes to a health risk? Is one particular health risk — say hypertension — going to have the same consequences for every pregnant woman’s health? Or does the particular woman’s medical history and her particular life circumstances make the same health risk more risky for her than for another woman? Are all women the same person? And who makes those decisions?

    If abortion becomes illegal with two narrowly defined exceptions, then it’s the State that makes those decisions — not doctors and not the woman involved. That’s unacceptable to me.

  19. Dynamic says:

    As usual, you raise excellent points. The problem is exceptionally complicated and I couldn’t possibly claim to have all the answers without suffering from serious hubris.

    I think, given the circumstances, the only acceptable solution is to make abortion legal, but highly regulated. Which is essentially where we’re at. While I can’t escape the simple fact that a human life does, scientifically, begin at conception, I also can’t escape your point regarding the difficulty of deciding what constitutes a severe enough risk to the mother’s life to justify an abortion.

    I think a lot of my frustration comes from both the pro-lifers who refuse to consider any compromise, and the pro-choicers who refuse to admit that a human being is a human being. Human life is absolutely precious, and I desperately fear a society that considers abortion a legitimate alternative to common sense contraceptive practices, as though human life only becomes valuable at some arbitrary trimester of development. Abortion is an extremely serious solution – it is, in fact, the ending of a life – and so, like other life termination procedures (euthanasia comes to mind) should be reserved for serious problems.

    I’m glad to be able to have reasonable conversations about it though – on this topic in particular, we both know how rare that can be!

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