Abortion activists resurrected false claims that pro-lifers want to jail women who have abortions, as the Senate conducts hearings on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week.
In a column for The Hill Tuesday, abortion activists Andrea Miller and Jill E. Adams referred to a comment President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail about women facing some form of punishment for abortion if it becomes illegal. Trump quickly walked back his statement and said his position is that abortion practitioners should be held accountable, not the women involved.
“With Supreme Court confirmation hearings underway, many of us are asking ourselves: Is Judge Neil Gorsuch a lynchpin of Trump’s crime-and-punishment agenda for abortion?” the abortion activists wrote. “In concrete terms, how many more women will have to go to jail for ending their pregnancies if Gorsuch gets confirmed?”
Miller and Adams referred to several cases where Gorsuch ruled on the side of pro-lifers, including Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor; Judge Gorsuch also defended Utah lawmakers’ effort to defund the abortion chain Planned Parenthood. They also pointed to his writings about assisted suicide and other issues that suggest that he may vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“… we risk a future, foretold by Trump, when large swaths of women will be routinely punished for their reproductive decisions. Then the question becomes: if abortion is a crime, how much time should a woman serve?” the abortion activists wrote.
Their claims have very little legal or historical basis.
Historically, the pro-life movement and the U.S. legal system have not prosecuted women for abortions, even prior to Roe v. Wade.
While pro-life advocates yearn for the day when unborn children are protected under law and abortions are banned, the pro-life movement continuously has opposed punishing women who have abortions — instead focusing on holding abortion practitioners criminally accountable for the unborn children they kill in abortions. Current abortion bans, such as the ban on partial-birth abortions, do not punish women who have abortions.
The movement tends to view women, who frequently are pressured or coerced into having an abortion, as second victims of the abortion industry. That is how states viewed the issue prior to Roe v. Wade, too, according to research by Clarke D. Forsythe, senior legal counsel for Americans United for Life.
In 2016, Forsythe wrote:
This political claim is not an abstract question that is left to speculation—there is a long record of states treating women as the second victim of abortion in the law that can be found and read. To state the policy in legal terms, the states prosecuted the principal (the abortionist) and did not prosecute someone who might be considered an accomplice (the woman) in order to more effectively enforce the law against the principal. And that will most certainly be the state policy if the abortion issue is returned to the states.
He noted that California and 19 other states had statutes that technically made it a crime for a woman to participate in her own abortion; however, these were not enforced, and even historians who support Roe v. Wade admit this to be true.
Millers’ and Adams’ claims are just fear mongering. Abortion activists shelled out huge campaign donations before the November election to put pro-abortion candidates into office, but most of them lost. Now, the pro-abortion movement is panicking.
In their column, Miller and Adams were clear about exactly what they want.
“We need a Supreme Court justice who will fulfill the unfinished promise of Roe: the full decriminalization of abortion,” they wrote.
In other words, they want completely unrestricted abortion for any reason up until birth, with no safeguards such as informed consent laws that ensure women receive basic information about the abortion and alternatives or laws that require parents to be involved in an abortion decision when a girl is under 18.
So, if a woman finds out during her 40th week of pregnancy that her unborn baby is a girl rather than a boy or has brown eyes rather than blue, or that she just got the part in a new reality TV show, she legally could have her baby aborted. And more than likely, Adams and Miller would want taxpayers to be forced to pay the bill.