Donald Trump got into a lot of trouble yesterday for saying that abortions should be illegal and that women (as well as abortion providers) should be punished for having them. It was a field day for Democrats, of course, but the pro-life forces were equally dismayed, and Republicans hastened to perform damage control, not wanting to be seen as “waging war on women.”
So maybe I’m alone in finding his perspective a little refreshing? Trump, of course, quickly backtracked to say that women were “victims” of abortion and should not be punished. March for Life reiterated its position that women often had abortions out of desperation and “deeply regretted” the act later. Another pro-life group said that women needed to “heal,” not be punished.
By saying that laws should punish women as well as providers, Trump was at least giving women the respect of acknowledging that they were not poor vacillating victims, but responsible deciders who stood by their actions. The “victimhood” road is a very dangerous path. This is the road Justice Kennedy took when he frustrated and disappointed prochoice women by upholding a ban on so-called “partial birth abortion,” noting that “it seems unexceptional to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained.” That kind of patronizing condescension does no good for women’s causes.