Doug Wilson explains why the pro life movement objects to passing laws which would punish mothers who abort their children along with the abortionists who assist them in doing so. His claim is that women who get abortions don’t know that abortion involves killing an unborn child, but abortionists do:
We are dealing with millions of cases. It is the view of politically active pro-lifers that the penalties should fall on those who know what they are doing. Medically trained doctors know exactly what they are doing. The ghouls at Planned Parenthood know exactly what they have been selling.
And the view about the mothers, taken as a class, is that they have been fraudulently manipulated into a form of negligent manslaughter. That kind of problem is best answered with information — ultrasounds and more. This is why pro-lifers for decades have offered support, information, care, and medical services to mothers. The laws have been aimed at doctors who were after the blood money. And in the main, this has been a very effective and reasonable distinction.
However, Wilson acknowledges that there may be extreme cases where a woman actually knows that abortion means killing the unborn child. For example, if a woman is a doctor who performs abortions and also elects to abort her own child, this would be the sort of rare corner case where the mother aborting her child understands that this means killing the unborn child:
Now of course you will have some cases where the mothers know just as much as the abortionists do. Say that an abortionist gets pregnant herself, and then procures a late term abortion. It would make no sense to maintain that she was not guilty of anything because “motherhood.” But that kind of rare case is not what the political battle is over.
Keep in mind that this is not about punishing women who have had legal abortions. It is also not about settling for half a loaf. This is about what kind of laws the pro life movement would want if they had free rein. This is about what the pro life movement sees as just. The claim isn’t merely that the pro life movement has utterly failed to explain that abortion is morally wrong for the last 40+ years. The claim is that after abortion is outlawed, 99% of women would seek out illegal abortion providers without understanding that this is wrong.
Stipulating the absurd argument that mothers don’t understand what abortion does, this raises an obvious question; how is it that the pro life movement has for all of these decades failed to explain that a mother who kills her own child is doing something wrong? The obvious answer is the very nonsense we are witnessing. This makes the case for a law that punishes women (in some way) all the more essential. How else could we hope to signal that this is in fact wrong?
Wilson has promised more detail on the subject in the future, but unless he changes his position I can’t imagine a longer argument being less absurd.