Chris Matthews recently posed a hypothetical question to Donald Trump. "If prohibition of abortion becomes the law of the land, would Mr. Trump favor some kind of punishment for a pregnant woman who chooses to violate that law and obtain an illegal abortion." Mr. Trump answered in the affirmative, that in fact some sort of punishment would be appropriate.
Outrage ensued, and as one commentator put it, the Donald managed the rarest of feats - offending both the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice sides of the Abortion Rights issue simultaneously. Against his instincts, Trump immediately retreated to the politically correct position that only the doctor performing the procedure should be punished, not the mother, who as the fetus is a 'victim' of the act.
In so doing, Trump inadvertently exposed both his personal hypocrisy as well as that of the pro-life movement.
Their contention is that life begins at conception. It thus follows that a fertilized egg / fetus inherits all the rights of every other human being, and even greater protection under the law due to its utter dependency on the mother. The entire rationale for overturning Roe v Wade and the prohibition of abortion rests on turning this moral argument into the law of the land. In so doing, aborting an unborn fetus at any stage would become tantamount to an act of murder.
Following this line of reasoning, any pregnant woman who willfully seeks an abortion would be murdering her unborn child. In no way would she be a 'victim' but rather a pro-active participant in the termination of a life. If one accepts this premise, what would be the argument that absolves the mother of responsibility? In what way should she be exempt from punishment for her willful act of murder?
There is only one rationale for the pro-life movement's exemption of the mother from responsibility and prosecution - to make their extreme positions more politically palatable.
It is deeply ironic for both for Mr. Trump and the pro-life movement that his latest snafu exposes the inconsistencies, if not hypocrisies, of each. Trump's contention is that he is not politically correct, but rather "tells it like it is." The retraction from his position that the mother should be held liable and responsible is an ultimate act of political correctness and cowardice.
The pro-life movement's contention is that an unborn fetus is a human life and an abortion is an act of murder. Thus, in no way can it follow that the mother is an innocent victim and not complicit in murder.
I am not a supporter of Mr. Trump. My personal belief is that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is perhaps life's most complex, difficult, and gut wrenching. It is deeply personal. I further believe that the government has no place in such a decision, except at the extremes. That makes me pro-choice. But if Mr. Trump and the pro-life movement want to legislate morality, they should at least look seriously at the implications of their beliefs and have the courage to be consistent.