Hear Bill Clinton lash out at pro-life students:
The sound is not great. I will spare you the joy of listening to bad audio several times. He says:
I gave you the answer. We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I reduced abortion. Tell the truth, tell the truth, if you were really pro-life, if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison…
Is that a fact?
As a pro-life advocate, I find the issue of criminalization anything but straightforward. On the one hand, I do not share concerns about imposing my morality on others since the purpose of criminal law is to impose a minimal morality on those who might not have it. When we live law-abiding lives and expect others to do the same, we impose our morality on others. When John Robin Sharpe tells us that child porn is a valid form of self-expression, we impose our morality on him by not putting up with it. On the flip side, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed their morality on me in Morgentaler and again in Tremblay v. Daigle.
When people say that they don’t want to impose their morality on others in the context of abortion, what they really mean is that they don’t want to do it in that particular context. This is problematic because it recognizes abortion as a legitimate choice in some cases thereby seriously undermining the pro-life position.
On the other hand, I also find myself at odds with calls for the criminalization of abortion. Not because I think that abortion is a legitimate choice but because I believe that in our present socio-cultural environment, criminalizing abortion would further victimize women. And I am not talking about clothes-hangers. Bear with me:
I believe that criminal law serves its most important purpose as instrument of social ordering not by its coercive force but by the general sense that the limits it imposes on free choice are legitimate and necessary. Unfortunately, abortion has been seen as a necessary and legitimate choice in Canadian society for many years.
As things stand now, abortion is not seen as an anti-social act from which society needs to protect itself. Even worse, right now Canadian society benefits from the (induced) infertility of its women. We all benefit from the strong economy fueled by the presence of women on the labor market. We all benefit by the consumer prices driven down, in part, by not paying the real cost of having mothers in the labor force. And we will not pay the real cost of having women in our labor force as long as our fiscal and social policies cast childrearing as a personal choice that women must assume.
In Canada – indeed, in most Western societies – women who get abortions do not behave in an anti-social manner. I will go even further and say that women who have no children or few children act as our stuff-hungry, profit-making, economically-growing, materialist society expects them to.
Pro-life reader, we have some work ahead of us before abortion could be made illegal. It is simply not enough to say abortion is wrong. Women need to be convinced that it is.