Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Pro-Life” = “Pro-Imprisonment”?

A regular pro-choice poster on our Facebook wall directed us to this article from the poorly-named RH Reality Check site, by authors Lynn Paltrow and Emma S. Ketteringham.
I would like to comment on the most relevant portions of the article here.

if these prosecutions continue, pregnant women who are addicted to drugs and who cannot overcome that addiction in the short term of pregnancy will be pressured into having unwanted abortions to avoid criminal penalties
Or they could work harder to overcome those addictions.
Like it or not, endangering a preborn human being is endangering a preborn human being. You may not like that fact, but there are plenty of distasteful facts out there. You may not like the responsibility, but adults have responsibilities. It's the way it is.
If a friend confides in me that he has an overwhelming compunction to fire off machine guns at playground equipment when kids are playing on it, I will tell him that he has no option - he is absolutely not permitted to do so. If he tells me he can't stop himself, I will take away his guns. If he persists, I will get him professional help. If he does it anyway, that's what laws against reckless endangerment are for. He is not an automaton, a 100%-unthinking slave to his desires to fire machine guns at occupied playground equipment. He made a choice. Neither is any person an automaton with zero choice in the matter of addiction. One has to want to be free of the addiction to become free. Putting laws on the books against behavior that often accompanies addiction is one way we deter people from becoming addicted, one way we help people realise they need to want to break the addiction more. No one can do it for them, but it must be done.

in which a pregnant woman had an abortion in order to get the state of North Dakota to drop “fetal endangerment” charges against her.
This is a perfect illustration of why many abortions occur - to escape unsavory consequences of someone's actions.
Had sex and got pregnant, but the baby would get in the way of your internship? No problem - just murder the baby and you'll be fine.
Unwilling to try hard enough to break free from a drug addiction and now you're facing charges of endangering your preborn baby? Just get the danger over with, murder the baby, and you're in the clear.

Incidentally, I'm no expert, but illegal drugs are often quite costly, and one of the pro-aborts' favorite hobbyhorses is "what about pregnancies that poor women undergo, who are in no financial shape to sustain a child?". I don't see how these two things can coexist. How do these poor women who are barely scraping by, barely paying for a studio apartment and Ramen noodles every night pay for illegal drugs? Maybe the pro-aborts don't really care as much as they claim about women, but rather have ulterior, unstated motivations.

why would a group that claims to value life urge Alabama’s highest court to uphold an interpretation of the chemical endangerment law that coerces women into having abortions and punish the ones who don’t?
I can think of a few reasons, actually.
Thanks to a decision by five highly-placed and ill-informed men 39 years ago, it is illegal to punish women for having abortions. Why would the authors of this article imply that they are unhappy with this arrangement?
Also, even if there were strong anti-abortion laws on the books (which there will be in the near future, God willing), the question of what penalties should be applied to abortive women is far from clear or easily answered. Here is our answer as it stands right now.
The motivation behind abolitionism is that human beings are created in the image of God, and we have a standing command, a heart, and a burden to preserve those lives, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to fight against suppression of the rights of the weakest and voiceless of our society. If it is possible to deter people from putting lives at risk by passing legislation and assigning criminal penalties to violators, that is, all other things being equal, what we would want to do. Why? Because of the effect of deterrence. Of course this is not one-size-fits-all, but where deterrence is a reasonably expected outcome, we want to put the deterrent in place, to save lives.
Taking illegal drugs during pregnancy is very dangerous for the preborn child. It can lead to death or serious birth defects and disabilities. Since the state is often saddled with much of the high costs of living for disabled people, the state also has a standing interest in protecting people from unnecessary debilitating conditions that would prevent them from being self-sufficient producers.

It is difficult, however, to see what is “life-affirming” about hauling off to jail new mothers who just gave birth and leaving their children motherless? Penalties under the Chemical Endangerment law range from not less than 1-year-and-1-day to up to 99 years (life) in prison.
It is not often that pro-aborts come up with good arguments, but I have to hand it to the authors here. Despite pro-abortion's history of getting virtually everything wrong, the authors swam upstream and made a good point, albeit on a relatively minor matter.
I am not an experienced legislator. From what I've seen of most legislators, that improves the probability that my judgment is reasonable and well thought out.
Nor am I an expert in law, however, and nothing comes immediately to mind with respect to how one could improve the sentencing structure. Obviously, the range of sentencing can't be so light as to remove all deterrent effects; on the other hand, we must avoid the extreme of cruel and unusual punishment.

But let me propose this to the authors and to you, the readers. The issue at hand is chemical endangerment. This means the pregnant woman is taking illegal drugs. Now, the authors may be pro-legalisation of drugs, so they may be consistent on this issue, but as it stands now, most usage of drugs that anyone cares about entails legal consequences as well. There is a really good chance that a woman addicted to drugs is not in a position to mother her children effectively anyway, since that's what happens with addiction - most everything else of value in one's life is thrown out the window in pursuit of the next hit or high. Even family relationships are torn apart because of this problem.
The authors apparently forgot to think that part through before they wrote their article.

Since 2005, National Advocates for Pregnant Women has documented hundreds of cases in Alabama and elsewhere in which women have been arrested for allegedly endangering their pregnancies including: Christine Taylor in Iowa who was charged with attempted fetal homicide after she fell down a flight of stairs while pregnant
I would not be in favor of having prosecuted Christine Taylor if the situation is as described in the article covering the topic, but it is irrelevant to this law regarding chemical endangerment of the preborn.

Bei Bei Shuai in Indiana who has been charged with murder for suffering a pregnancy loss after a suicide attempt.
If I shoot myself in the head, miss, and the bullet also happens to travel through the cranium of my friend, killing him, am I culpable for that death, morally and in the eyes of the law?
Of course! Even if I frantically call 911 and get the ambulance there and provide full cooperation, if he dies, am I not up on manslaughter charges? Not 1st-degree murder, of course, but manslaughter, most certainly.

The Liberty Counsel has established that the “pro-life” position is “pro-punishment,” not just for doctors who perform abortions
The authors of the article seem to think that's a bad thing. It is, rather, one of the best hopes for abolitionism in this nation. Aborticians are intentional liars who deliberately withhold full information from their clients, clients who often feel themselves in a desperate situation with only one way out. Thus they take advantage of these women, manipulate them into paying them to dismember their children, and then pat them on the head and say "don't worry, this will never come back to haunt you. Yeah, I know that thousands of other women are heartbroken years later and never get over it, but I'm sure you'll be just fine. Now, where's your $500?"
Pro-aborts like to talk like aborticians are modern heroes. They're not; they are the worst of the citizenry that is not currently in prison or under warrant for arrest.

If “pro-life” does not mean “pro-imprisonment,” now would be a good time to speak up and stop the growing assault on the dignity, sanctity, and liberty of the women who bring forth life. Where are they?
Right here.
What in the world are these authors even talking about? Women who "bring forth life"? Do the authors realise that the entire point of this article has been to discuss women who intentionally and repeatedly take dangerous drugs while pregnant? Are we supposed to laud such women?
You know, there is a difference, a vast one, between being a father and being a daddy. One can become a father with as little as a few moments of extreme pleasure - it's not that hard.
Being a daddy requires a lifetime of some level of sacrifice, discipline, self-denial, and love for weak, helpless children who have no way to pay Daddy back except in hugs, squeals, and kisses. "Daddy" is an earned title.
In the same way, one can be the biological mother of a child, sure, but let's not lower our standards so far that we applaud women who "brought forth life" in spite of everything they did, lest we drain the meaning from the position of motherhood such that there is no room in term to praise legitimately great mothers.

The authors have been answered, and unfortunately for their strident tone and opinions, their thoughts are too simplistic where right, and flat wrong where they're wrong.

(Please leave any comments at the Abolitionist Society blog.)