Would it really be a good idea to make abortion illegal? Don't get me wrong. I'm a committed Christian and a convinced pro-lifer. I don't just want to make abortion rare – if possible, I'd like to eliminate it altogether. But I'm also confused about the way we're trying to do this in the pro-life community. If we do make abortion illegal, what does that mean for women who seek abortions? Do we want to lock them up in jail? That doesn't sound right to me. Besides, I tend to agree with those who argue that you "can't legislate morality." What do you think?
We appreciate your pro-life convictions and like you, we believe that life begins at fertilization and that the human "fetus" is a person in every relevant sense of the word. In our view, this implies that abortion always entails the taking of an innocent life. From these assumptions we move logically to the conclusion that abortion ought to be illegal. But does this mean that we would call for the prosecution, punishment, and imprisonment of women who might seek abortions in defiance of legal prohibitions? Absolutely not.
Why do we say this? Because the laws of a nation have a declarative as well as a practical function. They make statements about the corporate moral standards to which we as a people subscribe. They identify the behaviors we applaud and those we consider reprehensible. The law is, among other things, a teacher. What the government allows, or prohibits, impacts public behavior and morals. This aspect of the law's power and significance should not be underestimated.
In this connection, it's worth adding that, historically, laws prohibiting abortion in the United States have generally called for prosecution of the abortionist rather than the woman. That's because the woman has traditionally been viewed as a second victim (along with her child) of the abortion.
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ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments