Donald Trump has sparked a firestorm of controversy by saying that abortion should be illegal and that women who get one should suffer some sort of punishment. He quickly tried to walk that back and say that only the doctors should be punished and Cruz and Kasich have pounced. But this only shows how incoherent their position is.
The other Republican campaigns are responding to Donald Trump’s statement that after banning abortion, there should be “some form of punishment” for women who get them. But while his GOP rivals all oppose the idea, none of them are actually offering a fully thought-out reason for why not.
“No, absolutely not,” John Kasich told Chuck Todd on MSNBC. “And I mean, I do have exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. But of course women shouldn’t be punished. Look, you know, I think probably Donald Trump will figure out a way to say that he didn’t say it, or he was misquoted, or whatever. But I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s an appropriate response, and it’s a difficult enough situation to try to punish somebody.”“Let me ask you this,” Todd responded. “How do you enforce a ban on abortion?”
“Well, look, I think it’s rape, incest, life of the mother, and you build some restrictions around it,” Kasich said. “But I think you have to be very careful in the way you do it. We’re a long way from there.”
Notice that he doesn’t even attempt to explain why, if he genuinely believes that abortion is murder, the woman should not be punished. Because he can’t. His position is utterly inconsistent and incoherent and taken solely out of political convenience. He knows, as Cruz and Trump know, that if you say you want women punished for having abortions, you lose the votes of independent women that you need to win an election. Hell, you even lose some conservative women. But their position is incoherent too. If it’s murder, as they claim, then there has to be punishment.
Trump tried to walk it back by saying he would punish doctors rather than the woman because women are the “victims” along with the unborn child, but that’s utter nonsense. It’s the woman who makes the decision to have them. If it is, in fact, murder (and it’s not, of course) then she is every bit as responsible as the doctor. It’s no different than her hiring a hitman to kill her husband (by their own reasoning) and no one would say that the wife is the victim there and only the hitman should be charged.
There is a simple answer to this, of course: It’s not murder. And no one should be charged.