Tennessee Newspaper Says Pro-Life Advocates Want to Jail Women

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 9, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Tennessee Newspaper Says Pro-Life Advocates Want to Jail Women

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 9, 2004

Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — In an article about two Tennessee men charged with shooting a pregnant woman, a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean newspaper accused pro-life people of wanting to jail women who have had abortions.

In her article, Tennessean reporter Holly Edwards discusses Tennessee’s status as one of 28 states that have unborn victims laws on the books allowing prosecutors to charge criminals who attack pregnant women with an additional crime if the attack results in the death or injury to the unborn child.

Edwards then writes, "If a person can be charged with murder for killing a fetus, some anti-abortion advocates argue that women who have abortions also should be charged with murder."

The newspaper’s accusation can’t be further from the truth say pro-life advocates.

"In fifteen years of pro-life work I have yet to encounter a single person anywhere who advocates the prosecution of women seeking abortion," commented Brian Harris, President of Tennessee Right to Life.

When asked why the erroneous editorial comment appeared in the story, Edwards told LifeNews.com, "I wasn’t referring to any piece of pro-life legislation."

"I looked at articles on this issue from news organizations across the country," Edwards explained "and the debate was focused on the conflict between having a law that allows people who kill unborn children to be charged with murder, and having a law that allows the women themselves to kill their unborn children through abortion. Some anti-abortion advocates argued that murder is murder, which is what I was getting at in that sentence."

Pro-life advocates say there is no "conflict" when it comes to helping pregnant women who are victims of violence.

Contrary to Edwards’ comments, the unborn victims laws on the books, including the Unborn Victims of Violence Act pending in Congress, explicitly state that the pregnant woman cannot be charged — only the criminal who attacks her kills or injures her unborn child.

Edwards has not yet responded to requests from LifeNews.com to produce news stories portraying a debate between pro-life groups promoting unborn victims laws and a pro-life group or leader who supposedly advoctes jailing women who have abortions.

Pro-life advocates say the pro-life community spends much of its time helping women who have had abortions overcome spiritual, physical, and emotional aftereffects.

"The pro-life position has always been that women are victimized by abortion. In fact, we have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that women should be put in jail," the pro-life group Priests for Life said in a statement.

Prior to the legalization of abortion, women weren’t indicted for having abortions, the organization indicated.

Harris told LifeNews.com that pro-life laws passed in Tennessee has consistently focused on abortion practitioners and abortion facilities.

"Whether cases involve non-compliance with parental involvement laws, the violation of informed consent provisions, or the denial of care to children born alive during abortion, the remedy always focuses on the abortionist, never on the woman," Harris explained.

In fact, none of the dozens of pieces of pro-life legislation filed in Congress and state legislatures across the country each year have attempted to prosecute women who have abortions.

Georgette Forney, the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, said the pro-life movement would always focus on helping women who are victims of abortions.

"Reaching out to women, helping them find peace and healing is being done by those of us who have also lived it and by many compassionate pro-lifers, loving us without judgment or hollow words that deny our pain," Forney told LifeNews.com.

Olivia Gans, director of American Victims of Abortion, agreed, telling LifeNews.com, "After a woman has experienced the lies of abortionists, she deserves our compassion and concern."

"The pro-life movement’s response is to extend the helping hand of compassion. Pro-lifers recognize that with every abortion, one life is lost and another is shattered," Gans added.

ACTION: Contact the Tennessean newspaper with your response to the quote at The Tennessean, 1100 Broadway, Nashville, Tenn. 37203, (615) 259-8300. Phone: (615) 254-5661 or 1-800-342-8237, email: [email protected]