Pro-Life - Original Articles

If Abortion Becomes Illegal, Will the Government Murder Your Sister?

by Pat Goltz

I debate the abortion issue from time to time. Inevitably, someone asks me who will be prosecuted if abortion becomes illegal. The choicers want to get me to "admit" that women will be executed for committing abortion. Since I have to answer that question so frequently, I will take the easy way out and put my answer here; after that, I'll just give people the link.

First, some history is in order. Abortion was illegal once. Suggesting that things will be done radically differently if it becomes illegal again is rather of a straw man, and I can think of a quarter dozen other logical fallacies it involves. So what was the situation before? Prosecutors prosecuted abortionists, not women. There were a number of reasons for this. First of all, prosecutors have discretion to decide who to prosecute, absent an indictment from a grand jury. A grand jury is unlikely to be handing down indictments of large numbers of women who simply obtain an abortion or two. This is not to minimize the seriousness of getting an abortion. It is simply a fact that the government's resources are limited, and prosecuting abortionists is much more effective, because abortionists do hundreds or thousands of abortions, and convicting one abortionist is a lot more effective. But there are some legal reasons as well. First of all, in order to prosecute a felony of such severity, the government has to prove intent. Intent includes the notion that a person knows that she committed a crime, and intended to do so. Where this falls down in the case of women is that there is profound and abysmal ignorance among women generally about what a woman carries when she is pregnant. If she doesn't know the facts of prenatal development, she may not know that she is carrying a human being.

I have actually been astonished at the degree of this ignorance. But from having talked to a lot of women, I am convinced this ignorance is very real.

How often were women prosecuted for this? Prosecution of women was rare to nonexistent:

"Were women punished?

"The definitive study on this gives the lie to Planned Parenthoodís ads which claimed: "If you had a miscarriage you could be prosecuted for murder."
Washington Post April 27, 1981

"Studying two hundred years of legal history, the American Center for Bioethics concluded: "No evidence was found to support the proposition that women were prosecuted for undergoing or soliciting abortions. The charge that spontaneous miscarriages could result in criminal prosecution is similarly insupportable. There are no documented instances of prosecution of such women for murder or for any other species of homicide; nor is there evidence that states that had provisions enabling them to prosecute women for procuring abortions ever applied those laws. The vast majority of the courts were reluctant to implicate women, even in a secondary fashion, through complicity and conspiracy charges. Even in those rare instances where an abortionist persuaded the court to recognize the woman as his accomplice, charges were not filed against her. In short, women were not prosecuted for abortions. Abortionists were. The charges of Planned Parenthood and other "pro-choice" proponents are without factual basis. Given the American legal systemís reliance on precedent, it is unlikely that enforcement of future criminal sanctions on abortion would deviate substantially from past enforcement patterns."
Women and Abortion, Prospects of Criminal Charges Monograph, American Center for Bioethics, 422 C St., NE, Washington, DC 20002, Spring 1983"

Excerpt from Why Can't We Love Them Both?

The next issue people often raise is how it will be determined that women had abortions. Will the government go snooping into people's private affairs to look for miscreants? The answer to that is No. In the past, an abortionist came to the attention of the government when he botched an abortion and the mother wound up in the emergency room of the local hospital. I see no reason why that wouldn't become the practice again. And when you think about it, it makes sense, because an abortionist in that case not only committed an abortion, but he committed medical malpractice against the mother as well. The way the law worked before, abortionists were extremely careful not to harm the women. Planned Parenthood itself claimed that over 90% of abortions were being done by licensed doctors, and we know that the reason they were called "back alley" is because women went to the doctor's office by the back door to keep the secrecy. Now that abortion is legal, these same doctors are still practicing, but now they have hung out a shingle and are advertising. And they have grown careless. The fact is, abortion is safer for women when it is illegal!

I rather quickly learned that most choicers don't really care about safety, no matter what they tell you. They aren't interested in abortion being safe; they only want to make sure that it remains legal and accessible. There is even a surprising number of women who actually don't care if they get hurt, simply because they do not believe they deserve to be safe after committing such a heinous act. Why do I say all this? Well, a number of reasons. 1. I have repeatedly asked choicers to support my efforts to clean up the abortion industry. Nearly all of them refuse. There are some notable exceptions, one of them being jilly, who runs a pro-choice site for women with PASS, with at least 30 discussion boards. 2. When I point out actual evidence that legal abortion is dangerous, instead of taking what I say seriously, choicers look for pawns who are willing to prostitute themselves to write medical papers that are full of lies, just to disprove it, and then accuse me of lying and terrorizing women. I wish that were the truth; I really do. 3. Whenever we try to clean up the abortion industry, the choicer movement fights us tooth and nail. Any law designed to make abortion safer for women is always attacked with a lawsuit, and enjoined by a willing and cooperative judiciary. 4. It is the pro-life movement that repeatedly calls the attention of everyone else to the front-alley butchers, but nobody pays any attention until women die. And it is never just one woman. Action won't be taken until a minimum of two or three women die.

What good does it do if we seek to protect women from coathangers by giving a stack of them to doctors, and then telling them, "Go make tons of money off women's bodies with these"? Excuse me, not coathangers, but vacuum cleaners. And do you know who terrorizes women? These front-alley butchers. I have talked to a number of women who have told me that hearing the sound of the household vacuum causes flashbacks, and they can no longer tolerate the sound.

I don't make this stuff up. I just tell you what I have been told.

For all of these reasons and many more, I suggest that if abortion were illegal, the primary group of people who would be prosecuted are abortionists. As I see it, women would be prosecuted if and only if there is probable cause to believe that a given woman knowingly and willfully, without coercion or adverse circumstances, had an abortion. This means a woman who doesn't feel trapped, and has an abortion just because she doesn't want the child, having the resources properly to care for her. It means a woman who knows the facts of prenatal development, and where the government knows she knows, and can prove it.

Why prosecute abortionists? There are a number of reasons. First of all, there is a presumption that an abortionist has received an education in medical school. He knows the facts of prenatal development. He knows that this is a separate member of Homo sapiens. He can be presumed to have the requisite knowledge that he is taking a human life.

Doctors take a medical oath. The public believes and trusts that doctors take an oath, and that they can be trusted to keep it. Two which are commonly taken are these:

The Hippocratic Oath

I swear by Apollo the physician, by Aesculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement the following Oath:

To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone, the precepts and the instruction. I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners (specialists in this art). In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction, and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or outside my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal. If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

Hippocrates of Cos

The Declaration of Geneva

At the time of being admitted as a Member of the medical profession I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity : I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due; I will practise my profession with conscience and dignity; The health and life of my patient will be my first consideration; I will respect the secrets which are confided in me; I will maintain by all means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession; My colleagues will be my brothers : I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient; I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of its conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity; I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour...

The Second General Assembly of the World Medical Association 1948.

Please note the date on the Declaration of Geneva. The purpose behind the devising of this oath was to prevent anything like the Nazi Holocaust from ever happening again. Notice also that it designates that human life is to be respected from the time of its conception. The devisers of this oath recognized that it is a crime against humanity not to treat unborn human life with the utmost respect, and that it is medically unethical not to care for it and protect it.

The World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life, a 350,000 member organization, puts it this way:


"From the moment of fertilisation, that is from the earliest moment of biologic existence, the developing human being is alive, and entirely distinct from the mother who provides nourishment and protection. From fertilisation to old age, it is the same living human being who grows, developes, matures and eventually dies. This particular human being with his or her characteristics is unique and therefore irreplaceable. Just as medicine is at the service of life when it is failing, so too it should serve life from its beginning. It should have absolute respect for human life regardless of age, illness, disability or degree of dependence.

"When confronted with tragic situations, it is the duty of the doctor to do everything possible to help both the mother and her child. The deliberate killing of an unborn human to solve social, economic, or eugenic problems is directly contradictory to the role of the doctor.

"Why was the Hippocratic Oath reformulated?

"The Nuremberg trials demonstrated that some doctors had decided that certain human beings were of less value than others (because of race, religion, handicap, age, infirmity etc.), hence it was not unethical to experiment on and to kill them. To ensure that doctors would never again be diverted from their proper function, the code of ethics was reformulated as the Declaration of Geneva 1948. Also on December 10th the United Nations formulated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 3 ("Everyone has the right to life..") reinforces the Medical Declaration of Geneva."

Based on the fact that a doctor has received certain training, and has taken an oath, the government gives him a license to practice medicine. Black's Law Dictionary tells us that a license is "a revocable permisson to commit some act that would otherwise be unlawful." Thus, a doctor receives a special privilege from the government. What he does when he practices medicine would otherwise be unlawful or illegal. The government licenses doctors for the protection of the public. A person should be able to go to a doctor and reasonably safely assume that the doctor will practice good medicine, and will not violate good medical ethics.

Abortion is clearly a violation of these medical oaths.

But is abortion good medical practice? Not normally. Most of the time, pregnancies are proceeding normally, and whatever a woman's personal wishes are, or circumstances are, there is no medical reason to intervene. When a medical intervention, especially one as invasive as this one, is undertaken without a medical reason, it violates the principle "Primum non nocere," which means "First do no harm." An ethical doctor will weigh the medical consequences of acting, and the medical consequences of not acting, and if it turns out that the medical consequences of acting are more medically dangerous than the medical consequences of not acting, the doctor is bound by oath not to act. This is fundamental. A woman's circumstances outside of her medical condition do not enter into the equation.

Furthermore, the practice of abortion without a compelling medical reason is a violation, not only of the Hippocratic Oath and the Declaration of Geneva, but also the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959, and, when fetal body parts are harvested, the Declaration of Helsinki, 1975, Section III(4), which reads, "In research on man, the interest of science and society should never take precedence over considerations related to the well-being of the subject". Our government has ratified several of these treaties, and has both the right and the duty to enforce them.

Government gives doctors a license in order that they may be permitted to practice. Because of that license, people trust their doctors. When doctors violate their ethics, they violate the public trust as well. In this case in particular, this violation is deadly. It kills a baby, and maims her mother, and subjects her mother to totally unnecessary medical risks.

Thus, while the a woman's actions usually fall short of having committed all the elements of a serious felony, there is no question about the doctor, because he can be presumed to know that what he did is both unethical and a betrayal of the public trust. Thus, it is incumbent upon the government to prosecute an abortionist to the full extent of the law.

And, oh yes, these butchers have a coterie of other so-called "doctors" who are ready and willing to prostitute themselves by inventing fake evidence that abortion is safe, and hacking out the articles in the medical journals to "prove" it.

On the rare occasion when a woman willfully and wantonly obtains an abortion, she can certainly be prosecuted for being an accomplice. But under most circumstances, it was not reasonable in the past to prosecute the woman, and it would not be reasonable now.

Therefore, the government will not be executing anyone's sister. Rather, prosecutors will be going after the scum who had the audacity to obtain a government license to practice medicine, and then to go out and deliberately betray the public trust by violating medical ethics, with women and children being particular targets. And if that isn't sick, I don't know what is.

Pro-Life - Original Articles