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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prosecuting women?


Earlier this year, NPR reported on a controversial abortion-related arrest:
Jennie Linn McCormack was charged last year under an obscure Idaho law for ending her pregnancy with RU-486. She joins an increasing number of women who get the so-called abortion pill off the internet.
NPR describes the circumstances of the abortion:
In late 2010, McCormack learned she was pregnant. The father was out of the picture. Her youngest was barely two and she was living off child support checks.  
Getting an abortion would have cost at least $500 and required multiple trips back and forth to a clinic hours away. So, McCormack turned to the rising number of Internet suppliers of abortion pills.  
Some pro-lifers believe that, should abortion be made illegal, doctors--and not women--should be prosecuted for breaking the law.  How would that play out in cases of self-administered medical abortions?
Now, this is where the story gets more complicated. RU-486 is medically recommended only within the first nine weeks of pregnancy. It turns out that McCormack was way past that although she said she didn’t realize it at the time.  
After she aborted the fetus she was horrified by how far along it seemed. Possibly as much as 20 weeks. McCormack confided in a friend. It was this friend's sister that tipped off the police. 
This, by the way, is why pro-lifers emphasize prenatal development as a part of informed consent.
“There are many cases where they prosecute or threaten to prosecute a doctor," [defense attorney] Hearn says. "There are not so many where they’ve prosecuted a woman.” 
...
One of the few pro-life groups we could find willing to say anything about McCormack was the Susan B. Anthony List. President Marjorie Dannenfelser calls the case “not acceptable." She adds, "We do not think women should be criminalized. Criminal sanctions or any kind of sanctions are appropriate for abortionists, and not for women.” 
And that’s the tricky thing about the case for the pro-life side according to Will Saletan. Saletan writes about reproductive health politics for Slate magazine. “The prosecution of abortion, which always hinged on the doctor being the targeted party, now has to target the woman," he says. "And the pro-life movement is completely unprepared for that.”
So what do you think, readers?  If most abortions--and not just self-administered abortions--were illegal, what should the repercussions be for breaking the law?  And why?

48 comments:

MightyMouse said...

Judging from Abby Johnson's description of her own RU486 procedure, this woman has probably been through hell as it is. I think counseling should be recommended for all women who choose abortion, in lieu of something more punitive. (Note: it should not be forced. She may only see a need for it years down the road.) Women are rare who have abortions for the sake of having one, instead of out of a very real stress or fear.

Susie Allen said...

As I understand it she broke three laws in ID. She self aborted, was over 20 weeks pregnant, and bought RU 486 over the internet. Was she aware of the laws of the state? Most are not.
Who ever sold her the drug should be prosecuted.

franky said...

Look at the end of the day the cold logic is that we treat abortion as homocide.
In law there are extenuating circumstances. Most homocides are crimes of passion, this often mitigates the circumstances and if self defence can be established or some other powerful emotional stimulii (in France a woman got off killing her Husband because it was claimed the hormones of pregnancy altered her brain chemisty...).

So it could be argued that the pressure, societal, emotional or otherwise is a mitigating circumstance in the abortion. This why we would or should target doctors. They are trained professionals. They know that it is a human being (which often woomen dont or cant grasp). They know what is involved and they are in a relatively stable state. As for do-it -yourself abortions the logic still applies. At the end of the day we couldnt actually stop them but what should be done is target the actual problem; the pills, eliminate them, crackdown... raise awareness as we do with normal illicit drug...

Anonymous said...

Pro-lifers don't care what happens to women who get pregnant and decide they don't want to have the baby because these women are morally bankrupt. Any woman who "breaks the rules" deserves to be punished. What is the basis for this type of female socialization? The Holy Bible, King James Version. There is no secular basis for blugeoning women with criminal charges. It's clear to anyone who isn't indoctrinated by religion that this website is pushing a conservative political agenda.

If the anti-choice movement took a tenth of the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect, they could make a world shine. ~Michael Jay Tucker

Anonymous said...

Mighty Mouse, please forward your ststistics on your stsatement that woman abort, primarily, out of fear or stress. For most women, abortion is a convenience for an unwanted pregnancy. The baby isn't wanted at that time so they terminate.

Ray Callahan said...

Anonymous, it is pro-life not anti-choice. Please don't twist the pro-life movement into a group of people that have no compation for woman that find themselves in the situation of an unexpected pregnancy. We care for them. We do however also care deeply for the child within that pro-choice/pro-abortion movements choose not to adnmit that it is a human life. Oh, and by the way, there are also pro-life organizations out there that are run by atheist. Google it if you want to broaden your mind just a wee bit.

Dolce said...

I agree with Susie Allen, the person who sold her the drugs illegally should be prosecuted - they put this mother's life in very real danger.

On the other hand, I don't think that Jennie Lin McCormack should get off scott-free. Abortion was legalized to avoid self-administered abortions which can be extremely dangerous to the mother. Tacitly improving McCormack's actions could put other women in danger, who see that she lived through a self-administered 20 week abortion using RU486 (which btw, should only be used up to something like 6 weeks if I remember correctly). There needs to be a very strong response that actions like this are foolhardy and put women in danger, and that women should see a doctor every time they seek an abortion.

That being said, I don't think women should be having abortions anyways. But as long as abortion is illegal, lets not make it even MORE dangerous by approving of this women's self-administered abortion using a drug that is not approved at 20 weeks pregnancy.

Dolce said...

sorry I mean "approving McCormack's actions..."
and "as long as abortion is not illegal..."

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of "pro-white" people out there who have joined the KKK, but don't you dare call them racist.

Lingam Singh said...

Calling BS on Ray Callahan. If pro-lifers weren't anti choice they wouldn't be pushing to throw women who've tried to get an abortion into jail.

Anonymous said...

She shouldn't get off scott free because SHE BROKE THE RULES! SHE BROKE THE RULES! Women can't have sex unless it's for reproduction. They have to face the consequences.

M said...

Very thoughtful reply. I've often wondered how prosecuting abortions would play out if they were held to the same standards as homicides--both in terms of killing a human being and in terms of emotional duress, etc.

M said...

Ugh, the labels argument again.

http://blog.secularprolife.org/2011/04/anti-non-defensive-killing.html

M said...

What *are* the laws for selling abortifacients online?

M said...

Interesting points. I suppose in that light it would be somewhat similar to abusing other prescription drugs to the point of risking your live.

Dulcimer Moody said...

Very thoughtful comment, not many people would think to equate women that wanted to have an abortion to drug addicts.

You see, sex is like a drug, and if these women weren't sex addicts they wouldn't be pregnant and not wanting to have a kid-- so it makes perfect sense. If only the right to life council would use thier massive amounts of money to set the message straight for the american people.

Anonymous said...

Irony: "Secular pro-life" complaining about labels.

M said...

That, or...

RU-486 is safe for women if taken under the correct conditions, but can be dangerous for women if used improperly/illegally.

Similarly, there are plenty of OTC drugs that are helpful to people when taken under the correct conditions, and can be very dangerous when used improperly/illegally.

Not sure where you saw the analogy to sex in all that.

Wat said...

Secular = not pertaining to religion.
Pro-life = opposed to legalized abortion.

Doesn't get much more straightforward than that. Although it is kind of funny just how much it drives you crazy. I think SPL's "you-guys-aren't-really-secular-JUST-ADMIT-IT-ALREADY!!!" trolls might be the most devoted SPL followers of all. Heh.

JoAnna Wahlund said...

At the very least she should be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. Her son was nearly to the point of viability and she killed him in cold blood. If he'd been born alive and then killed, should she be prosecuted?

The Karl Rove 100% Truth Test said...

We can more succinctly describe pro-life as the desire to oppress women's choices. If you can't be honest about wanting to punish women who don't want to give birth, you might as well just admit it. all of this "a zygote is a human being just as much as one who is born with fully functioning brain activity" is just a bad excuse for imposing your views of morality through legislation. "secular-pro-life" just wants to fool people into thinking that christians aren't at the heart of the pro-life movement. Kelsey Hazzard is a blatant Methodist, and all of the blog's affiliates are religion based. Just admit it: SPL is a secular outreach front for what is fundamentally a Christian fundamentalist political agenda.

Dulcimer Moody said...

Since the pro-life view reflects heteronormative gender socialization, All efforts go towards shaming women, labeling them as social outcasts if they do not live according to Christian gender norms. Every time you degrade a woman who wants to have an abortion, you're telling her that she can't have sex without your approval. Doesn't get more Facist than that.

LifeChoices said...

Anonymous, if you're going to request statistics, surely you should provide some to support your own claim...

Convenience: anything that saves or simplifies work, adds to one's ease or comfort. So, in that sense, having firefighters stop your house from burning down (provided that you yourself are not in it) is merely a matter of convenience, right? It adds to your ease, doesn't it? And anesthesia during surgery is also a matter of convenience. So... people shouldn't hesitate to do without?

Stress: physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. It seems to me that if abortion "adds to one's ease," it can only be because it removes a great deal of stress. Unless you mean to assert that pregnancy (esp. unwanted, unplanned pregnancy) and childbirth are a walk in the park?

As to those statistics: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf

From 1987 to 2004, the number one reason women gave for seeking abortion was that having a baby would dramatically change their lives, either preventing them from getting an education, costing them their job, or interfering with their ability to care for other children or dependents. And the number two reason was financial hardship. Sounds like a choice burdened by stress, to me. I certainly don't see "It would interfere with my ability to get manicures" on the list anywhere.

LifeChoices said...

"This, by the way, is why pro-lifers emphasize prenatal development as a part of informed consent."

Really? Well, if pro-lifers didn't also emphasize laws that forced women seeking abortions to make "multiple trips back and forth" to a clinic that's "hours away," because the others were shut down on technicalities or harassed out of business, perhaps this woman would've sought a doctor's help, and received the information, professional advice, and consent forms that any medical procedure already entails. And, with better health insurance, she would be able to afford seeking a doctor's care, as well.

This is why pro-choicers say, if you're really concerned about women's health, you wouldn't push for laws with these kinds of consequences.

Anonymous said...

None of this changes the fact that a baby was killed.

Anonymous said...

The baby pleaded for it's life. It said "please please don't kill me, mommy" as the abortionist's schapel severed it's fully developed windpipe.

JoAnna Wahlund said...

The abortion in question was induced chemically, so no scalpel was involved. Also, are you implying that it's acceptable to kill a human being so long as they can't beg for their life? That would mean it's acceptable to kill anyone who is sleeping or unconscious...

JoAnna Wahlund said...

You would prefer that women go to unsafe abortion clinics as opposed to self-aborting? (I don't think either should happen, as both options are unacceptable.)

If you were really concerned about women's health, you would want abortion clinics to comply with all state and federal regulations regarding surgical centers, even if it necessitates having fewer clinics.

Anonymous said...

I see what you did there, you assumed that a undeveloped clump of cells was the same thing as a fully developed human being who has already been born. Aren't you clever. Even if you weren't a baptist, do you think you'd still be this clever?

JoAnna Wahlund said...

An unborn child is never "an undeveloped clump of cells." Perhaps you should learn more about human embryology. This is a good resource.

Also, I'm not Baptist, but my religion is really irrelevant. Abortion is a human rights issue, not a religious issue. It's wrong to deliberately kill an innocent human being regardless of their stage of development.

Anonymous said...

Science can not provide an objective answer to the question of whether a fetus is a baby. But go on pretending that your religious values are universally valid and that the law should reflect the moral imperative of your church.

JoAnna Wahlund said...

A baby is a colloquial term for a human being in a certain stage of development. It's not a scientific question. It IS a scientific question as to when a new human being comes into existence, and science has already definitively answered that question (at conception).

Abortion is a human rights issue, not a religious issue. Human rights ARE universally valid.

Anonymous said...

Science does not say a baby is formed at conception. That's what certain pastors at certain churches have been telling you all your life and you accept it as reality because you're indoctrinated.

Perhaps some day you'll see that you're just a tool of conservative social engineering.

Anonymous said...

You are aware that there are ways to have sex that can almost ensure that you do not get pregnant if you really don't want to? You are also aware that there are plenty of ways to enjoy sexual activities without actually having sex?

And you are aware that sometimes after having sex, a woman and a man end up with a baby?

These are all facts that no amount of complaining will change. If having a baby is such a horrible thing, take the steps to ensure that doesn't happen. Don't kill your already-existing child.

Anonymous said...

Never mind that there are many women who have an abortion to hide the fact that they had per-marital sex or sex with someone who wasn't their husband, or sex with someone that they didn't love.

If we were SOOO into shaming women who have sex in less-than "traditionally ideal" circumstances, why are we SO focused on helping these women welcome their children (which are often seen as the evidence that they had sex) into this world?

JoAnna Wahlund said...

When you fail to read previous posts, it makes you come across as ignorant and stupid. As said above:

"A baby is a colloquial term for a human being in a certain stage of development. It's not a scientific question.

It IS a scientific question as to when a new human being comes into existence, and science has already definitively answered that question (at conception)."

Let me repeat that: science has conclusively determined that A NEW HUMAN BEING comes into existence at conception.

Some people colloquially refer to that new human being as a "baby" because s/he is the very young offspring of his/her parents.

Also, I used to be a liberal Democrat, and I was raised in a church that supported abortion.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how to respond to this, it's way too derpy to even make fun of it.

It's like she's been manipulated by propoganda to such an extent that it's morphed her perception of the English language. You're so deluded by pro-life propoganda that you think that calling a fetus a "baby" is just a normal use of the word.

I'm sure the Episcopalians weren't fire and brimstone enough for you, perhaps a nice southern baptist, calvinist, pentacostal, or perhaps one of those new-fangled prosperity theologans are the right religion for you-- or you could always be a Rick Santorum style Catholic. Are you familiar with the quiverfull movement? they were made famous by the Duggar family, You'd fit right in.

So tell us: were you a liberal democrat before or after Barack Obama became president? Tell us your story about how a black president made you change your mind about liberalism.

JoAnna Wahlund said...

If you have never heard "baby" used colloquially to refer to an unborn child, then I suggest you go read a few pregnancy message boards, or pick up any book about pregnancy.

The last Democrat I voted for was John Kerry.

M said...

JoAnna, you make plenty of good points, but ultimately it's still feeding a troll. Given how steeped Anonymous is in prejudice and how attached he/she is to a faith in non-falsifiable theories, I don't think it's really possible to impart anything.

Anonymous said...

Non falsifiable theories? like how a "fetus" is a "baby"-- why? Colloquialism!

I'm not saying it was colloquialism, but it's colloquialism.

Anonymous said...

Ah so I was right about you, JoAnna.

Again-- I want you to explain to us what you don't like about our current black president. Did you go to McCain after hillary lost the nomination? Why did you decide to switch parties after the democrats nominated a black candidate?

JoAnna Wahlund said...

Sorry, M - one more reply and then I'll shut up, I promise.

Anonymous, I find it sad that you still judge a person by the color of their skin as opposed to the content of their character. I dismissed Obama as a viable candidate for my vote once I found out about his unequivocal and enthusiastic support of infanticide; his skin color was and is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't make sense JoAnna, you're not being honest here. How could you support Hillary and not Barack if you only vote according to the abortion issue? Why did you vote for Kerry? If you voted for Kerry how can you say that you care about innocent fetal babies? Based off of what you said, you can't possibly be a pro-life democrat. It's more likely that you're just lying about your party affiliation because I called you out on being an ex-Episcopalian. Why won't you admit that you voted for Bush twice?

Facepalm said...

Wow, just wow.

Anonymous is trolling like crazy... If you can't stand the fact that abortion kills a human life, then telling us otherwise through bandwagaon fallacies, ad hominem fallacies, strawmen, non sequitur fallacies, and whatever nonsense you can muster won't convince us.

Calling a baby a fetus doesn't change the reality, and calling a fetus a blob of cells may be true, but "technically we're all blobs of cells".

Anonymous said...

I just want to make a clarification: I posted the first comment of "None of this changes the fact that a baby was killed" as anonymous because I didn't want to go through setting up an account. That is the only comment I made. ANYONE can post as anonymous, so please don't assume all comments are from the same person. Btw, I'm not religious, so that is not a factor here. I simply understand that human embryology shows a human is created from conception. And my name is Nancy Perez.

Anonymous said...

We're all blobs of cells, so pregnant women who don't want to be mothers will be sent to jail and Obama shall be voted out of office.

Facepalm said...

Just because a women is pregnant doesn't mean she has to be the mother, there's always adoption.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I can't hear you over the sound of the republicans that want to dismantle social safety net in this country. You can't have your welfare apparatus and eat it too.