By Michael R. Shannon
It's rare to discover an individual in public life whose verbal gaffes are so contagious they spread to the normally circumspect, but Donald Trump has that effect on people.
Trump was giving one of his let–it–all–hang–out interviews during a townhall conducted by Chris Matthews. Poised like a drunken Wallenda, Trump teetered from question to question. This time the slip was abortion — after all it was MSNBC. Trump was asked his stance on "reproductive health." This is a term used nowhere outside the abortion industry and evidently it means escaping any consequences that might result from a woman's poor decisions.
Trump said he's pro–life with three exceptions: Rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Matthews pressed and asked what Trump thought the law should be regarding abortion. If Trump would cut into his tweeting time for a couple of hours to take a basic media training session, questions like this are easy. He simply says, "Chris, I just answered that. I think abortion should be illegal except in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother. And I think the federal government should leave the specifics to the individual states."
Since preparation is not a word normally associated with Trump, he didn't give that answer. Instead he wandered down a series of dead ends and rabbit trails until Matthews demanded, "…should the woman be punished for having an abortion?"
Instead of replying, "Chris, that's a hypothetical question and answering it should be left up to the individual states," Trump does a Lewandowski and says yes, there has to be some form of punishment for the woman. He didn't specify if it should be fines, jail time or five minutes with his campaign manager.
Trump's discourse on women has included sexual orientation, BMI index, adultery and that time of month, so reproduction was just a matter of time. What was interesting about opening up this new front in the war on women was the panic he caused in the pro–life community.
Mike Huckabee, a Trump supporter, said he "found myself just recoiling. I never have heard that we want to punish the woman. She's punished enough."
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, declared, "…punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another."
Yet both of these statements are morally incoherent.
By this reasoning, if a mother drives her two–month–old unborn child to the abortionist to have it killed she is in no way culpable, but if she waits and drives her two–month–old baby to the executioner she's guilty of murder.
That's exactly what the pro–abortion lobby says! It contends rules are different for humans until they cross the plane of the cervix — and if you're Obama, not even then since that's another border he doesn't recognize.
Or as Hillary so delicately put it: "The unborn person doesn't have constitutional rights."
Please name me another category of law breaking, other than immigration, where you can aid and abet the commission of a crime and not be held criminally liable. These abortion doctors aren't cruising La Leche meetings slipping Rohypnol into the punch. At the very least these women are co–conspirators.
And don't bore me with protests about the inseminator. If the male is as much as part of the killing process as he is of the creation process, then hook him up, too.
Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League, says that pre–Roe he can find no evidence a mother was ever prosecuted for having an abortion. His organization's position on future law is much more logically consistent regarding the culpability of the mother.
"Our basic position is that if abortion is made illegal then the intentional killing of the human being in the womb would be homicide and it should be treated like any other homicide. The local DA would determine who is culpable and who isn't. In most of the cases we would assume the mother would not be prosecuted. But let the law take its course."
Giving mom a free pass is more sympathetic and gets you better media coverage, but it's not consistent and it's not the truth. To paraphrase Randy Alcorn: Truth without mercy breeds self-righteousness and legalism. Mercy without truth breeds deception and moral compromise.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!).