Monday, August 13, 2007

Abortion and jailtime

In this post on abortion and jailtime, Dean quotes Cerberus in showing his skepticism that pro-lifers really do believe that the fetus is a human being.

The logic goes: if pro-lifers really do believe that killing a fetus is a human being, they would want the same charges as murder.

Personally, I think that eventually, women will be prosecuted for killing their unborn children. It may take ten years or a hundred. But the logic requires that the mother render an account for her complicity.

However, the goal of pro-lifers at this point is to get the state to stop sanctioning abortion so that it ceases on a mass scale.

Whether the woman goes to jail or not is of lesser importance. If it requires sacrifice to consistency to get people to accept that law, I am certain that just about all pro-lifers are ready to concede that point.

Imagine what it would be like to live in the South where lynchings were not uncommon You are the lone egalitarian in a small town of white supremacists who lynch Black people when they feel the need.

You think it's a horrific crime. You think the murderers and all those who are complicit deserve jail.

But who would that be? Every man on your street and in your community. Your father, your brothers, your uncles. People who, in other circumstances were otherwise good to you, but who show a dark side in regards to this practice.

It might be natural that even though you consider what they do to be horrific, you might not be anxious to see them off to jail, because racism is such a commonly accepted notion in your part of the world, and it so imbues your culture that everyone is tainted by it, and almost no one would be spared.

You want the lynchings to stop. You want it to stop being acceptable. You want Black people to have rights so that when the case does come to the Sheriff's attention, he feels obliged to prosecute the case. You just want the guy who strings up the rope and lights the match to be guilty. All the other people may be complicit, but it's difficult to prosecute everyone, but you just want enough of a sanction for the whole business to stop.

Now what do YOU do as an egalitarian?

Emotionally, it would be difficult to call for the prosecution of people you love. Would it not be natural to be reluctant to do this?

Do you call for all the guilty parties to be prosecuted? Or just the ones most guilty of the offense? Do you try to spare the others who are complicit, hoping they will testify to spare themselves?

But if you spared those who are complicit, wouldn't that mean that you didn't think the black person was deserving of equal justice?

Well of course not-- you're trying to get as much protection as you can.

When you are at the beginning of a struggle for equal rights, you are not necessarily thinking about 25 years down the road. You're thinking of NOW. You want SOMETHING to stop the slaughter-- whatever can get past into law.

And THAT'S why most pro-lifers do not have an answer about jailing women. At this stage of the game ANY law is good. Any law to give the unborn legal protection, no matter how flimsy the penalties would be far superior to the situation now. People do not want to see women go to jail-- it is less about jailing women than affirming the principle that unborn babies are humans, too, and that the slaughter is unacceptable.

There's no hypocrisy or shame in being realistic the kind of law a government can enforce. That's being practical.

This whole discussion though is a diversion because what proponents of legalized abortion cannot come out and say is that the fetus is a nothing. THEY know that many fellow-travelers would abandon them at that point. If the fetus is a nothing-- and that would be the best argument for legal abortion-- why not come out and say it?

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