70 Pro-Life Organizations Say Law Shouldn’t Punish Women For Having Abortions

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/06/13/70-pro-life-organizations-say-law-shouldnt-punish-women-for-having-abortions/

If states ban abortion, what should be the enforcement mechanism?

Should the woman who decides to have an abortion – be it a surgical abortion or a chemical abortion – face a legal penalty?

Across the country, 70 pro-life organizations, including Massachusetts Citizens for Life, say no to that question.

The pro-life organizations wrote an open letter to lawmakers across the country letting them know that they would not support any pro-life laws that issued a criminal penalty to a woman having an abortion. That means that, for example, they wouldn’t support charging a woman who has an abortion with murder or manslaughter. 

The letter came in the wake of a draft leak last month suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, sending abortion law back to the states.

The pro life organizations’ reasoning? The organizations say that women are also the victims of abortion. Here is what the letter says, in part.


As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women, and children across the country, let us be clear:  We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts.

If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, they will be honoring the unambiguous division of powers described in the Constitution, returning abortion policymaking back to our elected state and federal legislators. This will be a tremendous opportunity for states to create durable policy that can stand the test of time. But in seizing that opportunity, we must ensure that the laws we advance to protect unborn children do not harm their mothers.

We are America’s leading advocates for life. We come from very different backgrounds and perspectives, but we are united in our mission to protect unborn children and American women from the greed of the abortion industry. We have been in this fight for decades – many of us have dedicated our lives to this cause. We understand better than anyone else the desire to punish the purveyors of abortion who act callously and without regard to the dignity of human life. But turning women who have abortions into criminals is not the way.

Massachusetts Citizens for Life executive director Patricia Stewart told NewBostonPost in an email message that women who have abortions deserve compassion, not punishment. 

Here is what she wrote:


Criminalizing or punishing women who obtain an abortion is simply wrong. Despairing women, who feel compelled to resort to abortion, are not criminals. They are victims of soulless purveyors of abortion, who lie and trivialize the process to deceive and lure them into choosing abortion as a quick solution to an overwhelming problem, then abandon them to deal with the consequences. And there are always consequences. For some, the disastrous effects are immediate; for others it takes months or years for the disabling psychological and physical damage to surface as they struggle with the mental and emotional trauma that abortion wreaks on a life that is forever changed. These women deserve our compassion and support, not condemnation.


The National Right to Life Committee took a similar approach; the organization signed onto the letter and argues that women are the second victims of abortion. (Massachusetts Citizens for Life is a local affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee.)

Here is what National Right to Life president Carol Tobias said in a statement posted to the organization’s web site:


There are two victims in every abortion: the unborn child who loses her life, and her mother who is left abandoned by the abortion industry to deal with any physical complications, as well as the emotional and psychological pain of the abortion trauma for months or even years to come. This joint letter recognizes that women who have abortions require our compassion and support, not criminalization.

Today, as a movement, we call on state legislators to act with love and compassion toward women who have abortions and to enact policies that strengthen the life-affirming resources for abortion-vulnerable women in their states.


Secular Pro-Life founder Kelly Hazzard, who signed onto the letter, agreed that women are sometimes the victims of abortion, but she also said she doesn’t think that applies in every case.

Here is what she wrote in a statement on her organization’s web site:


This is not to say that every woman who seeks an abortion is a victim. Some are not. Some, fully informed about the humanity of their unborn children and the availability of non-violent alternatives to abortion, nevertheless kill without remorse.

On the other end of the spectrum are undisputed victims, such as teen girls forced into abortion by abusive adults. The middle is vast, encompassing economic coercion, medical misinformation from abortion clinic “counselors,” and pressure from unsupportive fathers — all against a cultural backdrop that, for five decades, has dehumanized babies and trumpeted abortion as a “woman’s right to choose.”


If states enact laws restricting abortion that don’t offer a penalty for the woman who has an abortion, they could still penalize abortion providers.

In Texas and Oklahoma, for example, private citizens can sue anyone who aid or abet in  prohibited abortion. In Texas, where abortion is illegal after six weeks, citizens can sue for up to $10,000; there is no criminal penalty for abortion providers under this law.

And in Oklahoma, abortion is legal only in cases of rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother. There, private citizens can sue a provider of an illegal abortion for up to $100,000. Additionally, a doctor who performs an illegal abortion in Oklahoma could face up to 10 years in prison.


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