Why Don’t We Punish Women Who Have Abortions?

Joe Carter | April 1, 2016

During a recent town hall forum, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was asked by host Chris Matthews if he thinks there should be “some form of punishment” in the event of a ban on abortion. Trump said, “For the woman? . . . Yeah.” He added that the punishment in question would “have to be determined.”

The comment was quickly condemned by both those who support abortion and those who oppose the killing of the unborn. Within hours Trump released a statement reversing his position, saying, in part:

If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.

Why Was Trump’s Initial Answer Wrong?

Because abortion has been legal throughout the country for two generations, many pro-lifers have not had to seriously consider the question of why women should not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

Before we address that question, though, we should first ask whether women who had abortions were treated as criminals prior…

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