Opinion

Should women get “punishment” for abortion? Abusive men should.

Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy, something he proved again last month. When asked if women should face legal consequences for abortion, Trump said they should, arguing “there has to be some form of punishment.” His comments provoked condemnation, much of it from pro-life organizations.

Trump later claimed he misspoke and only favors punishing abortionists, a position many in the pro-life movement take. But while the issue is heated, it’s largely hypothetical. Even if pro-lifers did favor punishing women (and they usually don’t), the Supreme Court would have to overturn Casey v. Planned Parenthood first for it to be an option in most cases. However, there’s another group that we can go after, and I doubt many people would object.

According to some studies, more than half of women who abort are pressured to do so, which makes sense; an abortion is a lot cheaper than child support. For some men, it’s also a good way to stay out of jail: time and again, child sex predators have used abortion to keep their crimes hidden and ongoing.

What does that pressure look like? Personal blackmail and financial coercion are common features. Sometimes it involves more trauma–the blunt force kind.

It did for Roxanne Fernando; she was beaten to death by her boyfriend when she wouldn’t abort their child. Other women have been shot, stabbed, burned and smothered for the same reason, which helps explain why the CDC lists homicide as a leading cause of death during pregnancy.

But women who resist aren’t the only ones that end up dead. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that abortion is associated with an increased risk of suicide, something plenty of families know too well.

In response, legislators have pushed for new laws to stop coercion. Last year, Texas state representative Molly White authored a bill requiring abortion clinics to offer a private room equipped with information on support services and telephone to contact law enforcement. As everyone can see, these are common sense measures that could prevent abuse and save lives.

Well, not everyone: NARAL Pro-Choice Texas dismissed the bill as “not needed.” Lawmakers like Michigan’s Amanda Price and Arizona’s Kimberly Yee also faced criticism for promoting anti-coercion measures. The truth is that for NARAL and its allies, defending women isn’t as important as defending the abortion industry. The good news? Pro-lifers are ready to pick up the slack.

You can help with that by telling your elected officials to make stopping coercion a priority. You can also support pregnancy care centers–places where women receive pregnancy related resources along with information about adoption and parenting. Finally, if you think someone is under threat of violence, contact law enforcement. Because while the idea of punishing women for abortion might be controversial, stopping abusers shouldn’t be.

Author’s Note: If you are being pressured to have an abortion, go here to find out where to get help.

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