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Columns: Conservative Writer's Desire To Punish Women for Abortions Not Rare Among Abortion-Rights Opponents

October 1, 2014 — Two writers who support reproductive rights recently responded to comments by National Review's Kevin Williamson, who said that women who have abortions -- and those who help them do so -- should be put to death.

~ Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times: Columnist Abcarian writes that the view that women should face criminal penalties for obtaining abortions is "not as rare as [people] might think" among abortion-rights opponents. In her experience reporting on the abortion-rights debate in the U.S., Abcarian has "interviewed many abortion opponents who believe that terminating a pregnancy under any circumstance is murder and a violation of God's will" and has learned that "there are people in this country who would like nothing better than to see women who have abortions be punished with prison terms. Or worse." She cites the case of Jennifer Whalen, a Pennsylvania mother sentenced to prison for obtaining medication abortion drugs online for her daughter, as an example of the real-life implications of this approach. It is "important to know that people like [Williamson] are out there" and "influenc[ing] the conversation around abortion," she adds (Abcarian, Los Angeles Times, 9/30).

~ Amanda Marcotte, USA Today: Marcotte, a feminism and politics blogger, writes that "anti-abortion activists try to have it both ways, arguing that abortion should be banned because it's 'murder' and that women getting an abortion should be 'protected.'" She suggests that Williamson deserves "[k]udos ... for telling the truth and abandoning the futile effort to ignore the contradiction." Marcotte writes that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has noted that laws supposedly protecting women's health "aren't, in reality, making abortion safer or protecting women at all," adding that such "laws are more consistent with a desire to punish women than with the desire to protect them" (Marcotte, USA Today, 9/30).