Trump’s suggestion that women should face some kind of punishment for seeking an abortion was met with derision, disbelief and disapproval. However in the UK abortion is technically punishable by a prison sentence of up to twelve years. And as a recent Telegraph article reported:
Last year a young mother from Durham was imprisoned for two-and-a-half-years for inducing a miscarriage in her third trimester using medication bought online.
The 1967 abortion act does not apply in Northern Ireland and a young woman is to stand trial there for attempting to terminate her own pregnancy and helping someone else to miscarry.
Several hours later — after widespread condemnation from Trump’s presidential rivals and even leading anti-abortion groups — he walked back his remarks, releasing a statement in which he said that women who obtain abortions are victims and that doctors who perform the service are the ones who should be punished.
Trump’s first position may seem unpalatable – but is it helpful to see women who obtain abortions as ‘victims’? Women seek abortions for all sorts of reasons and in extremely different contexts. It seems that some pro-life campaigners want to dampen down opposition by freeing the women themselves from blame. Some women may be coerced into abortion or forced into their choice by poverty. But painting all women seeking to terminate their pregnancies as victims of evil abortionists takes away women’s agency in a patronising and dishonest way.
Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws mean that women have to travel to the mainland – and pay – in order to obtain an abortion. But prosecutions are generally avoided even though some women have actually asked to be prosecuted to draw attention to the issue. An unwillingness to prosecute or imprison doesn’t help those for whom the abortion ban has proved to be a death sentence.
Gene adds: Trump has also walked back on another issue– his notorious demand that all Muslims be excluded from entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Now he says he is willing to make exception for his rich Muslim friends. Seriously.