It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen: Once in a while, usually accidentally and usually out of naivete and ignorance, Donald Trump utters something close to a truthful statement.
The most recent example occurred last week, when the supposedly pro-life Trump pointed out that if abortion is outlawed, then “there has to be some form of punishment” for pregnant women who break the law by seeking the procedure illegally. Horrified Republicans and pro-life leaders rushed to condemn Trump’s statement, reassuring voters that if they succeed in banning abortion, they have no intention of prosecuting women who decide to seek an abortion anyway. The criticism grew so harsh that Trump himself later backtracked, taking the out that a woman who seeks an abortion should be considered a blameless “victim.” Doctors and anybody else complicit in an abortion could be prosecuted, but not the woman who actively seeks it out and pays someone to perform it.
Sorry. That’s nonsense.
The central moral, legal, ethical and religious argument of the pro-life movement is that life begins at conception, that abortion is murder, and it is murder in all circumstances. When a pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, for example, abortion would still be murder, which is why Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and an increasing number of other Republicans insist on banning the procedure even in those cases. That is also the position of Georgia Right to Life. Abortion is murder even when the fetus is known to be fatally compromised, with no chance of surviving outside the womb. By the logic of the pro-life movement, nature must be allowed to run its full course in those tragic cases, and intervening is akin to a mercy killing or euthanasia.
I respect individuals who take that position and who live their lives by it, even if I disagree with their choice. But if we write into our laws that an embryo/fetus is a child, and that abortion is the murder of a child, then a woman who pays money to have her own “child” “murdered” is herself a murderer. There is no logical way around that conclusion.
The escape hatch cited by Trump, in which pregnant women are magically classified as “victims” to excuse them from the consequences of their act, works only if we pretend that a pregnant woman is too addled by hormones and the weak-mindedness inherent in her gender to be held responsible for her actions at such a time. It’s inherently misogynistic, and contradicts everything that the pro-life movement professes to believe.