Pro-Life is Pro-Love: The Case against Criminalizing Women
The pro-life movement has long opposed criminalizing women as it seeks to ban abortion because it protects the abortionist, while endangering the life of the mother. Our movement recognized early on you save the baby by saving the mother, and we have been doing just that for over 40 years.
Our nation’s legal history demonstrates a long record of targeting the abortionist, while treating the woman as a second victim. According to Americans United for Life’s Senior Counsel, Clarke D. Forsythe:
[The policy of targeting abortionists] was based on three policy judgments: the point of abortion law is effective enforcement against abortionists, the woman is the second victim of the abortionist, and prosecuting women is counterproductive to the goal of effective enforcement of the law against abortionists.
In other words, you need the woman’s cooperation to put the abortionist out of the business, which accomplishes the goal of saving the most lives. Women fearing prosecution are unlikely to seek timely treatment in the event of complications from the abortion, potentially compounding the loss of the child with the loss of her life. Such tragedies would be exploited by abortion advocates and the media—a losing narrative pre-Roe and now. Saving the mother saves both lives. Loving mom and baby is what more than 200 pregnancy resource centers in Texas do every day. These centers are dominated by women, many of whom have experienced the pain of abortion and seek now to rescue their younger sisters. Pregnancy resource centers provide help to tens of thousands of women every year with material assistance, medical care, licensed counselors, job training and placement, parenting classes, housing and more. They enjoy a 97% approval rating from the clients they serve, save 80% of their babies and are tangible proof that pro-life is pro-love. Imagine their dismay at waking to headlines suggesting the pro-life movement might now be defined by those pushing Texas to jail and even execute young, desperate women. If we allow this fringe element to define us, we deserve this self-inflicted wound. The moms and babies who need us, however, are the ones who will suffer for our folly. Pro-lifers should remain committed to our mission of rescuing and saving vulnerable women, and their babies (James 1:27). Rescuing, not jailing, vulnerable women and girls is winning the day. Pro-life is pro-love.