In a recent piece on Ms. Magazine‘s blog, Holly Derr asked some provocative questions for anti-abortion Presidential candidates. I too would love to hear their answers to these questions, and actually from anyone who is anti-choice. Here they are. If abortion was illegal:
1. How many years do you consider to be a fair prison term for a woman who has an abortion?
2. How many years for a doctor who performs one?
3. Will the punishments be greater the second time around?
4. Where will the state get the money necessary to prosecute one-third of all American women for this crime?
5. Forty-two percent of women who have an abortion have incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (that’s $10,830 for a single woman with no children, if you’re counting). When women are forced to have children they cannot afford to raise, will those children become wards of the state or simply new Medicaid recipients? Where will the state find the money necessary to support them?
6. Will you be willing to watch your wife die in front of you when her life is threatened by an unsafe pregnancy that no one is allowed to do anything about? Your daughter?
7. Will rapists have to pay child support to women who are forced to have their children?
8. Will the child of incest be in the custody of its rapist father or the father’s teenaged daughter, his mother? In fact, 18 percent of women who have an abortion in America are teenagers. Will they be required to drop out of high school to raise their children or will the state provide free childcare?
9. Will upper-class white women be prosecuted as vigorously as other women who have abortions?
10. You are aware that upper-class white women have abortions, aren’t you?
If you could add questions to this list, what would they be?
Here are a few of mine, that relate to one of my biggest beefs about anti-abortion laws in the first place:
11. Would you agree that not everyone agrees on the answer to the question of when human life begins?
12 Would you also agree that how one answers this question stems from a matter of one’s faith, ultimately making it a moral issue?
13. How does wanting laws related to this faith-based, moral issue Not violate one of the founding cornerstones of our democracy–the separation of church and state?
Not only will there be huge social costs if abortion is ever made illegal, but to me, what people believe on this issue is so tied to their personal, moral and religious (and non-religious, e.g., atheist or agnostic) beliefs, that it should remain a matter of individual privacy.
Good list of questions!
I’d be interested in if they would attempt to block women from obtaining abortions outside the US, or prosecute women who obtained abortions out of the country. The extension of that being: Would groups raising funds for out-of-country abortions be subject to prosecution?
Where’s the line between illegal behavior to produce an abortion and behavior that’s simply not in the fetus’ best interests? For example, a woman might limit her consumption of foods with folic acid & take high doses of vitamin C. Both of those actions are associated with inducing miscarriage, but neither is a reliable way to abort.
How do candidates expect the international community to react?
If such a change was enacted, do they expect to see emigration as a result? (I personally, would be moving to a different country as soon as practical.) Due to this, and other circumstances (such as unexpected pregnancies), how much of a decline is expected in numbers of women in the US workforce? I’d imagine the people most likely to leave the US as a response are relatively affluent and educated (simply because gaining citizenship in another country is a confusing and expensive process). How much of the workforce decline could be expected to come from the pool of highly skilled and/or educated women in the workforce?
I’m sure I’d have other questions, but those are the major ones that come to mind for me.
Emily–excellent questions! I have already thought about what I would do if roe v wade was rolled back, and yes I would go live elsewhere–not because I would want the option (hubbie long ago fixed), but because I would feel like it is not a country I want to live in….
What I always find fascinating is that it is often the same people who rant about getting government out of our lives are the same ones who demand that government intervene in this private issue between a woman, her family, and her doctor.
Another thing I find just as fascinating is that it is often the same people who rant about cutting government spending are the same ones who pass up the chance to save the government a lot of money by funding abortions instead of costing the government more money on these unwanted kids (often in poor households) with food stamps, Medicaid, public schools, and tax benefits. This is in addition to the added costs to the criminal justice system you described if abortion were criminalized.
But it the imposition of one’s religious views using the force of government onto those who don’t follow those religious views which I find the most offensive. Being an atheist, this one drives me nuts. (Same way for same-sex marriage when the homophobes start quoting the meaningless bible to support the views they wish to impose onto others.)
Deegee–as always, love when you weigh in…I want Alex’s response to your comments…
Oh my goodness the ignorance is appalling!!!!
The separation of church and state is not in the constitution.
Abortion is not a religious issue.
Just because someone thinks life begins at conception that doesn’t mean he is a Christian.
Yes, I know the actual term “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution–it is a principle however that has been with this country since our founding fathers, Jefferson and Madison in particular. If they had their way it would be in the constitution. I also know that many will disagree with me that abortion boils down to an issue relating to one’s god–and not just a Christian god. Imagine if religious beliefs were taken out of the abortion debate all together–would this be such a divisive issue? It would be a matter of biological opinion e.g., some would live from the position that life begins at conception, but others would be free to adopt the position that “life” is not a zygote etc. No larger faction would have to put a law in place that tells us what we are supposed to believe about this. I am no expert to be sure but I still stand that the government should not interfere with one’s position on abortion…
1. If abortions are illegal, it’s likely that the percentage of “miscarriages” will increase dramatically. Will all miscarriages be investigated and women who have lost a fetus questioned by authorities, their bodies probed and poked to determine whether the miscarriage was “natural”?
2. Will the government simultaneously support better sex education (beyond the “abstinence” foolishness) to help boys and girls/men and women prevent pregnancy (and thereby reduce the number of visits to back-alley abortionists, the number of single mothers, and the number of absentee fathers)?
The criminalization of abortion makes as little sense as the defunding of birth control Senator Rick Santorum favors, and the effect it could have on the economy and the “breakdown of the family” is similar (I won’t even get into the limitations it puts on women’s rights, because they don’t care about that – they care about MONEY and VOTES), so I “interviewed” Rick Santorum to point out how absolutely absurd all of this is. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it: http://sylviadlucas.com/2011/10/21/an-interview-with-rick-santorum-on-birth-control-marriage-and-utopia/
I’m with deegee 100% on certain people using the government to force their religious views on others. You can’t be for “small” government and still wish to use the government to impose YOUR values on others. As a libertarian (therefore pro-choice on everything), it irritates me so much to hear people chant “government out!” while wishing for the government to mandate laws about who you can love and marry and the issue of abortion for example.
Personally, I don’t like abortion. I wish it was a procedure we could do away with except in very serious circumstances that are beyond our control (rape, incest, health to mother and child). But considering that those who define themselves as “pro-life” aren’t coming up with solutions to lower the need for abortion; I believe until that happens, the option needs to be there (safe, legal, and rare ideally). To the ladies, when it comes to decisions you need to make for whatever reason —- always distrust a government who doesn’t trust you!
Some other questions to pro-life conservatives:
1. Will you call for a ban on the sale of any substance that could be ingested to induce a miscarriage, like the dozens of things currently sold at Wal-Mart that can have that effect? (Carrot seeds, for example — will you need to have a license to buy carrot seeds but no license to buy a gun?)
2. Will all miscarriages be considered potential homicides until ruled otherwise? What rules will govern treating the uterus as a crime scene?
3. How will you prevent abortions in cases where only the mother knows she’s pregnant? How will you make sure every 2-celled embryo gets a Social Security number?
4. Will the embryos/fetuses inside illegal immigrants also be protected, or do they not count, just like their parents don’t really count?
5. What do you make of the fact that the Old Testament treats murder as a capital offense, while causing a miscarriage only warrants a fine?
6. Will you pass additional protections for women who are survivors/victims of domestic violence? If a man abuses his pregnant wife, will he face severe additional penalties?
One more I just thought of:
Women’s clinics that do abortions and those that don’t both use more or less the same equipment and supplies, and like most medical equipment there’s a very tidy profit on them.
Are you going to regulate the big corporations that profit from the sale of medical equipment that may or may not be used for abortions? Will you prosecute companies that sell things that everyone knows are used to perform abortions? Are you going to increase government regulations at the expense of corporate profits? What about all those Republican shareholders in those companies?
If you’re a pro-life conservative, do you think _A Handmaid’s Tale_ is a cautionary tale, or do you think of it as a source of great ideas?
Scott — all I can say is — Excellent questions! I wish we could see anti-abortion candidates squirm to yoru and other smart questions so far~
So, if I’m a 14 year old on death row in Texas, can I get myself redefined as a really big fetus so the state doesn’t kill me?
I love it–ok maybe you won’t be put to death if you abort but a question sure would be how long would a 14 year old go to prison for murder if she had an abortion? How about if she was 18?
Laura, these are all excellent questions! However, I doubt that the anti-choice presidential candidates would answer any of them, not directly anyway. I participate in a few abortion discussion forums, and I have seen variations of these questions asked before. I have not seen one anti-choice poster answer any of them. Questions like those Ms. Derr, yourself, and others here have raised are usually ignored, primarily because the anti-choicers know they don’t have an answer.
“Alex” said that the “separation of church and state isn’t in the constitution,” which is half right. In his letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase, “the Wall of Separation between church and state.” He was referring to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which reads “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Those first words form the “Wall of Separation” that Jefferson mentioned in his letter.
Susan–Yes, I am not really serious that the candidates will answer but getting people thinking about the ramifications of abortion becomein illegal sia good thing….Indeed on Jefferson coining the phrase and the Bill of rights! Thanks for the reminder on that–love the smart comments I get here….!
Gertie, fun question, but per a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the last 10 years, it is not permissible to execute someone if s/he committed the crime when s/he was under the age of 18.
Gertie – I love your question.
The response I usually hear from politicians/anti-choicers when you try to reason with them or make them comprehend the emotional/psychological/physical/economical (and all the various other “icals”) ramifications of banning abortion is “We need to teach these kids abstinence and sex is only to be between a married man and woman, and then it won’t be an issue.” Every time I hear that practiced, chiche` response I want to ask them:
“What about the 20% of abortions that are provided to married women? You do realize that married women accidentally get pregnant to, right?” (Twenty percent was one of the last stats I saw.)
At this point, I’m starting to feel bad for all the single women who have been made to feel they are the only ones who get abortions and that only dirty, ignorant, slutty women have abortions. Sometimes it just makes me want to stand up and yell, “I’m a happily married women who has had 2 abortions during her marriage! I was financially stable, had a great home with my husband, and I still chose to have an abortion. I’m not sorry, I have no regrets, and my husband and I are happy!”
I want to make signs that say “1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime!” and plaster it all over this country. Billboards, TV commercials, radio ads, all letting people know that abortion is not some occasional occurrence for a few 16 year old girls. It is an every day, commonplace, medical procedure. It can’t be the skeleton in the closet if almost 50 million women have that same skeleton.
I really like how outspoken you are about reproductive rights. I think anti-abortionists are the ultimate “oopsers”. On a side note, I found an article (from 2009) on the parallels between anti-abortion rhetoric and anti-childfree rhetoric:
Xena, Thanks for the link to the salon article..I remember it, and in just reading it again, recall it is a smart article!