Sunday, August 19, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Anna Quindlen wrote an editorial in the August 8 issue of Newsweek about this video making the rounds on YouTube. Apparently some people have gleefully discovered that pro-lifers don’t spent much time thinking about how to punish women who get an abortion. The pro-abortion folks take this as evidence that we aren’t very smart. But there’s a simpler explanation. Pro-life activists are motivated first and foremost by the goal to prevent abortions. They want to save the lives of babies. They’re not out to get pregnant women. They want to help them avoid what may be the biggest mistake of their lives.

If you wanted to prevent abortions, how would you do it? First, you might try to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Encouraging people to have sex only inside of a stable, monogamous, heterosexual marriage might be a good start. So what do we find? The same Christians who want to save the lives of unborn babies also generally support abstinence education and oppose anything that would weaken the cultural institution of marriage.

There will always be unplanned pregnancies, of course. Christians have therefore established thousands of privately funded crisis pregnancy centers in this country. The goal of these centers is to give women the emotional support and the practical help they need to carry their pregnancies to term, whether they choose to keep their babies or give them up for adoption.

The final component of the strategy to save the lives of babies is the drive to make it illegal to provide abortion services. We need to put these organizations out of business, or at least out of the abortion business. Should it also be illegal to get an abortion? Perhaps, but the pro-life movement has never been about retribution for abortions already committed. I believe jail time is not the most effective deterrent. Knowledge is. When a pregnant woman truly understands that she carries another human life within her, and when she understands how brutally abortion terminates that life, few would be so selfish as to choose their own comfort, convenience or even safety over the life of her child.

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