Posted by: bridget | 15 September 2007

Picking on Pregnant Ladies, Legislating from the Courtroom, and Other Nonsense

Update: PG argues against imposing criminal sanctions upon physicians.   

The insane campaign that won’t die: feminists still present pro-lifers with the false dichotomy of infantalising or imprisoning women.  Fred Thompson announced that he wants abortion to be illegal and to imprison doctors.  He opined that women who abort during the first three months of pregnancy should not be imprisoned.  So-called feminists, predictably, threw a fit.

As the pachyderm stated in a previous post on this subject, the pro-abortion logic on this point is flawed.  It turns criminal law on its head: instead of prosecuting based on the mens rea of the perpetrator, the sanctions would be based upon the victim and the identity of the perpetrator.  (Well, this is some of the theory behind hate-crime law, which is equally misguided.)  Furthermore, a law can rationally penalise one actor and not another: for example, many states impose much higher penalties on drug dealers than on drug users, under the belief that the latter group is victimised by the actions of the former.  Finally, the so-called feminists predicate their pro-abortion beliefs upon the pain, discomfort, and emotional difficulty of pregnancy, yet do not permit pro-lifers to use any of those as mitigating factors.  (Ericka Anderson has more.)

Fred’s position is quite sensible.  He does not want to prosecute women who get pregnant and seek illegal abortions; however, his sympathies are limited when women have been pregnant for several months and then decide that they don’t want to remain in that situation.  It does not patronise women to refuse to imprison them; it only acknowledges that physical and psychic stresses of pregnancy are experienced by the pregnant woman, not her abortion doctor.


In other news, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that abortionists cannot be forced to tell their patients that embryos are not “a complete, separate, unique and irreplaceable human being.” According to the judges, who are living proof that most law students and lawyers are in their profession due to their incapacity to pass basic science courses, :[t]here is not even remotely a consensus among New Jersey’s medical community or citizenry that the plaintiff’s assertions are medical facts, as opposed to firmly held moral, philosophical and religious beliefs….”

Let us parse this out. The progeny of two humans is always a human; membership in the species occurs at conception.  Ergo, the “human being” requirement is satisfied.  The “separate” requirement is also obvious: if embryos were an inseparable part of the woman’s body, she would, in 52% of pregnancies, be partially male.  The “unique” element is easily satisfied: after conception, the embryo has its own DNA.  (Even identical twins will develop different neural circuitry; by week 8, they will have their own fingerprints.) 

Perhaps New Jersey took issue with “complete”  and “irreplaceable?”  “Complete,” under any sane reading of the word, refers to the fact that an embryo is not a tadpole, an arm, or unformed tissue: unlike most Christmas toys, no assembly is needed.  “Irreplaceable” could be a moral or religious issue (query whether humans are interchangeable); however, this is a slightly redundant part of “separate and unique:” surely, those beings which are unique cannot be replaced.  The pachyderm is confused as to which part of that is anything save medical fact. 

This case arose out of a botched abortion procedure.  The patient asked if “it was a baby in there,” to which Dr. Turkish replied, “Don’t be stupid; it’s only blood.”  The woman later experienced complications from the procedure; at the hospital, she was told that parts of the human being were left behind in her uterus.  She sued Dr. Turkish for medical malpractice and is requesting that abortionists be required to tell their patients, under informed consent laws, that the embryo is a separate human being.

As much as the pachyderm disagrees with the reasoning of NJ’s Supreme Court, she does not much object to the outcome of this case.  A malpractice suit ought to be retrospective only; its purpose is to determine if the doctor acted properly.  A patient who was not properly informed about the effects or nature of a particular procedure cannot legislate from the courtroom; she may only use her situation to serve as a cautionary tale.  The results of a malpractice claim should never impose specific, affirmative duties on every physician in that jurisdiction: malpractice suits tell doctors what they ought not to do, not what they must do and the methods of so doing it.  A court may properly rule that Dr. Turkish committed malpractice and reject the demand for specific informed consent law.  The plaintiff ought to meander over to Trenton for such resolution.



  1. Amazing. And never forget Bridget, I love to hear your opinions. I even just read this post out loud to my daughter. She lost interest since Bender is on T.V.

  2. Aww… thank you. :)

    I can’t compete with Bender. That’s just life for ya.

  3. I quite agree with that last paragraph. The informed consent law shoud come from the legislative branch.

    I can’t decide if you should be President or Chief Justice, though I fear I am too old to see you in either position. Any preference?

  4. (Laughing) Um, I think that the Honourable John Roberts is a fine Chief Justice; I just want to take over as associate when Justice Stevens retires. Think about it – I have another 60 years in me, at least – leftists, progressives, and communists the world over would shake their fists at me for the better part of a century. ;)

  5. I just discovered yesterday that Supreme Court Justice Thomas is a die hard Husker fan. I always knew I liked that guy!

  6. (Laughing) Another feather in his cap! :)

  7. […] Heaven’s sake.  As per previous bloggings, the question is beyond absurd.  First of all, no pro-lifer really wants to imprison women.  The […]

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