This article was written in response to Donald Trump’s recent statements that there should be some form of punishment for women who’ve had an abortion. Although Donald later recanted his statement, I argue here that abortion should be illegal and that breaking such a law should involve some form of punishment for both man and woman.
Let us be concerned mostly with truth, love and justice. According to St. Thomas Aquinas,
“the proper effect of law is to lead its subjects to their proper virtue: and since virtue is that which makes its subjects good, it follows that the proper effect of law is to make those to whom it is given, good, either simply or in some particular respect.”[i]
When abortion is legal, it is easier not to take responsibility for one’s sexual behavior and to think that abortion is a solution. Some may also think that other tax payers should pay for such service, and that healthcare providers shouldn’t have the right to conscientiously object to performing them.
I want to clarify that this disposition is not about punishing women. However, there are circumstances where women may be coerced into having an abortion by a man or men who are raping her, whether related to the girl or not. In these cases, of course, she would not receive any punishment. There may also be cases where a young woman is involved with an older man, though not in a forced fashion, but by virtue of her young age, she is not liable.
In other circumstances, when someone consents to have an innocent person killed, it is fitting that such behavior is illegal and there are punishments associated with breaking the law.
If we revert to St. Augustine’s thinking concerning when human life begins, thinking that took place over 1500 years ago, a person doesn’t have sensation or a soul until the 40th day after conception.[ii] Now, we know all human beings begin their life from the moment of conception, having fully intact DNA that already determines their gender. Thus, there is no excuse for all of the children whose lives have been taken from them after conception.
This is a hard saying for many to accept. But looking at the facts, there is no arguing against the reality that we all began our lives from the moment of our conception. Whether or not you believe in the soul, our science establishes without a doubt the moment we begin our lives.
For those women who are remorseful from having had an abortion, and are offended by this reminder, I’m truly sorry. It is not my intention to offend you. However, with respect to those who would express no remorse for such an act, why defend what cannot be defended? A person begins their life at the moment of conception… ending that life is ending the life of a unique, never to be created again, human person.
Our laws help to establish a just society. Laws that protect the rights of women who haven’t been born are just as important as those that protect the handicapped or the elderly from being put to death because they might more easily be seen as an inconvenience.
If we lived in a society where the infirm, elderly and handicapped are regularly killed to justify the bottom line of healthcare expenditures, as was the case when socialism began in Nazi Germany, people might object to laws suggesting that these people have rights and that violating them should result in punishment. Thankfully, we don’t live in such a society. Hopefully, we never will.
I recently read an article on LifeNews.com that argues that Donald Trump’s statements hurt the pro-life cause.[iii] I disagree. The aspects of the pro-life movement that are focused on mercy and comforting those who’ve had an abortion are as alive today as they were before Donald’s statement. Those in the pro-choice camp who see this as the heart of the pro-life movement, i.e. legal protection of the unborn and punishment when the law is broken, and would use it as ammunition to attack the character of those in the pro-life movement, are as mistaken in the nature of the matter as they are with respect to the rights of the unborn that they’re often so eager to fight for the right to trample over in the name of healthcare or women’s rights.
Thankfully, rights come from God, not man.
The right to life is a fundamental, God given right.
No law that allows abortion is a just law.
Moreover, if laws are made that fine or imprison men, women, or doctors, or those who would coercive a man or woman into having an abortion, there’d be less abortions and a more virtuous society.
If there were no punishment for driving while intoxicated, more people would do so. And yet, it’s still a bad situation, people still break the law. Arguably however, less people drive while intoxicated.
When laws are passed that punish those involved with abortion, less abortions will occur. And yet, just as in the case of DUIs, they’ll still likely to occur. In such cases, may the act lead to the sorrow and guilt that leads to repentance, to being embraced in the loving and understanding arms of Jesus, just as it should today. Often its only through our sin that we recognize our need for a Savior.
When society reflects justice for the rights of the unborn, there will be less of a need for the merciful, nurturing aspects of the pro-life movement, i.e. those aspects that focus on recovery after the tragedy.
Laws help to create a just society; punishment is often a viable deterrent to committing a crime. Conversely, in a perfect society where men and women are angles, no laws, police or government would be necessary.
When abortion is not seen as a solution to sexual irresponsibility, those prone to irresponsible behavior, which includes everyone, i.e. all of us after Original Sin, must find strength and encouragement for being responsible with the gift of sexuality and where it’s designed to lead, i.e. the creation of human life. Otherwise, we ought to face the punishment and be thankful for it. After all, its punishment in the next life that we really want to avoid. Moreover, if the laws we have in place in this life help us cultivate an attitude of virtue and just behavior, and correspondingly, repentance when transgressions are committed, thanks be to God.
In this sense, I applaud Donald for being brave enough to speak up for justice, justice for the unborn.
For those in the pro-life community who believe that there shouldn’t be laws helping to prevent the rights of the unborn have been trampled on… please reconsider your view, especially in light of St. Aquinas’ quote mentioned above. If laws are broken, punishment follows when appropriate. Most of all, please continue to cultivate an attitude of mercy, love and acceptance for those who have a conscience and face the guilt and depriving aftermath associated with having had an abortion. They need you today as much as they did yesterday.
Perhaps one of the largest obstacles to upholding justice for the rights of the unborn comes from divisions among followers of Christ. If there was less of a mindset that a person can determine what is right from wrong without the guidance and authority of the Church our Lord founded through St. Peter, there would be less of an uproar to comments like those that Donald made. The Church teachings are clear on the need to defend the rights of the unborn, as well as on the use of contraceptives, which have a direct correlation to the number of abortions every year due to a typical use failure rate of 9%.[iv]
Defending the rights of the unborn through laws that involve some form of punishment when broken, in defense of those whose rights have been violated, is a reasonable and just pro-life position.
[i] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica Ia-IIæ Q. 92 Art. 1.
[ii] Bishop Robert Vasa, Diocese of Baker, Oregon. Modern Look at Abortion Not Same as St. Augustine’s. EWTN. Online. https://www.ewtn.com/library/bishops/vasapelosi.htm
[iii] Bilger, Micaiah. Why Donald Trump Saying Women Should be “Punished” for Abortions Hurts the Pro-Life Cause.” LifeNews.com. 31 March 2016. http://www.lifenews.com/2016/03/31/why-donald-trump-saying-women-should-be-punished-for-abortions-hurts-the-pro-life-cause/
[iv] ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES AND CONCEPTION. Online. http://lifeissacred.net/Oral-Contraceptives-Conception-and-Breast-Cancer.html