What “except life of the mother” means

Back on the Sarah Palin track, but not just that – this is a question pertinent to her views, but not necessarily only hers.

On the subject of abortion, Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president (by which you also have to say, possible future president) has famously said that were her daughter raped and impregnated, “I would choose life” – taken as a statement that she would not allow her underage daughter to have an abortion. Elsewhere, “In an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire filled out during the 2006 gubernatorial race, Palin again stated that she is against abortion unless a doctor determined that a mother’s life would end due to the pregnancy.” Earlier, “In 2002, when she was running for lieutenant governor, Palin sent an e-mail to the anti-abortion Alaska Right to Life Board saying she was as ‘pro-life as any candidate can be’ and has ‘adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion.'” Presumably, then, she is contending that such abortions, with one limited causal exception, should be against the law; if she does, there should presumably be a penalty – incarceration, fine, or something – for violating that law. (We have to say “presumably” because the small matter of exactly what should or shouldn’t be legal and what the penalties for violation should be is fudged over, unaddressed, on the dozen or so pro-life websites we checked today.)

That in hand, consider this bulletin (sorry, no available link) today from the Idaho Falls Post Register:

A St. Anthony man has pleaded guilty to raping and impregnating his girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter. Guadalupe Gutierrez-Juarez entered the plea today as part of a deal with Fremont County prosecutors. In exchange for pleading guilty to one felony count of rape, prosecutors dropped two other rape charges. Gutierrez-Juarez and Isabel Chasarez were arrested earlier this year after the victim gave birth at a local hospital.

A question Charles Gibson might consider asking Palin: What should the legal penalty imposed on that 10-year-old girl – incarceration or otherwise – have been had she wanted/been allowed not to bring that rapist’s child to term?

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2 Comments

  1. claytoncramer said:

    I’m not sure what Palin would say. I can tell you that pro-life sorts that I talk to are intent on criminalizing performing an abortion–which will generally mean punishing the doctor who performs the abortion. (Yes, a woman with a coathanger would certainly be subject to punishment.)

    One area where pro-lifers haven’t thought this through very well is an area where they share much in common with liberals: the belief that making something illegal will make abortion almost disappear, creating a law that doesn’t require a lot of punishment. If you don’t recognize this as a liberal point of view, you should talk to gun control advocates for a while–who are also convinced that making a few examples will be enough to solve the problem.

    By the way: while tragedies like this often produce very difficult questions, I hope that you recognize how tremendously atypical this case is. It is rather like the case where a kidnapper has hidden the victim somewhere underground, with a limited air supply–and won’t tell you where. (And this isn’t a hypothetical–there have been cases like this.) Do you make a deal to let him plead to a lesser crime in exchange for saving the victim’s life? Do you turn off the video camera in the interrogation room for a few minutes while some beats this monster to a pulp to get the information? It’s a very atypical situation, and making laws around rare events isn’t wise.

    September 10, 2008
  2. […] Christy puts a face on that “life or health of the mother” exception that gets bandied about so carelessly these days. Here’s another of those faces, via Ridenbaugh Press: On the subject of abortion, Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president (by which you also have to say, possible future president) has famously said that were her daughter raped and impregnated, “I would choose life” – taken as a statement that she would not allow her underage daughter to have an abortion…. […]

    September 13, 2008

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