Kevin Williamson used to be at the National Review where he did some excellent pieces. His work on the small towns of Appalachia – the solution being that they should empty out and rot away – was very good reporting however one might dislike the conclusion. I liked that conclusion myself but it takes all kinds, right? He moved on to the Atlantic and he’d not had time to wear the letters off his new keyboard before he was fired.
Essentially because the mob rose up and demanded that he get fired. It is, of course, entirely up to the people who own the Atlantic and those they employ to manage it to decide who works for them. But it’s is still interesting to ponder the specific complaint made:
Williamson may be gone from the Atlantic, but the point of view he espoused is alive and well. Now, as when he was hired, suggesting that women be punished for getting abortions is not an idle speculation or flippant joke. It’s an all-too-real proposal being floated in multiple states, and one that had the support, at least at one point, of the man who is now our president. That’s something no one should forget, no matter what Williamson does next.
Williamson did indeed state that he supported punishment for those who had abortions, up to and including hanging just as with other homicides. Apparently said as more than just a provocation.
Hmm, well, employers and their employees should take care of that. Yes, indeed, I’ve been dumped overboard because editorial staff didn’t like my views – on other matters – and while I’ve not been greatly pleased by it I do, entirely so, defend their right to do exactly that.
But now think of what Vox is saying there. Even to suggest that women should be punished for getting abortions is enough to cast you out beyond the Pale.
It’s entirely legitimate to argue that women should indeed be able to gain abortions as and when they wish. It’s equally legitimate to argue the opposite, that they should not. Even, yes, to argue that procuring an abortion should be a crime. Which it has been for most of the time any modern state has been a nation state with a functional legal system.
No, let us not try to decide that question here today. But just take one strand of that – if it is to be a crime, as it was, then who should be punished for committing that crime? We do have pretty good common law guidance here. Sure, it’s the doctor (or nurse, backstreet abortionist, whoever) that commits the actual crime of abortion, that removal of the fetus from the womb before term (that actually is the technical definition by the way). But as with varied forms of other crimes, those who act in concert can be and often are held liable for crimes not specifically committed by them. The acting in cohort part makes them guilty all the same. So the person procuring the abortion, acting in a manner to enable it even, would be under this common law principle at least a little bit guilty of the crime itself.
Again, get away from whether it should be a crime at all. Concentrate on the next stage of the argument here, if it should be then who should be punished if it is? And if the punishment is to be capital punishment, as with homicide (no, it isn’t, but imagine it was) then why wouldn’t the procurer get the same as the more active participant in said crime?
That is, there’s actually nothing wrong at all with the logic of the statement made. The error, as far as Vox and the like are concerned, is in pondering whether abortion should be a crime at all. And closing down that conversation is rather why the US has such a problem over the subject itself, isn’t it?
So, to ask the question. And it is just this question. Not whether abortion should be a crime or not. But, having assumed that it is, what should be the punishment for those who then break that law, commit that crime?