Our state senator, Dan Foreman, caused a recent stir when it was reported that he was going to introduce a bill in the Idaho legislature that would make abortion first degree murder, not only for the doctor who performs it, but also for the woman who procures it. The first part of this article talks about all that.
The exact wording of the bill is not out in public yet because according to legislative rules it can’t be released yet. So in the meantime, let me say just two things in support of Sen. Foreman. He ran for this office saying what he was going to do, and now he is doing it. There’s a concept.
But the first thing necessary is careful wording. We need to note that in order for the charge of first degree murder to stick, a prosecutor would have to show intent. In some cases, doing that would be straightforward, but in others, not so much. In the case of an abortifacient drug, for example, like a morning after pill, the legal difficulties would be considerable. The woman would not have to demonstrate that she “didn’t know,” the prosecutor would have to demonstrate that she did. He would have the burden of proof because she is innocent until proven guilty. Didn’t know what? Well, for example, if a woman testified that she didn’t know that an IUD prevented the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall, it would have to be the responsibility of a prosecutor to demonstrate that she was lying. Now in the case of a woman getting an illegal third trimester abortion, the mere fact of the law would create a presumption that woman knew what she is doing. Some cases would be straightforward, but many would not be. I am trusting the language of the bill will take that into account.
The second thing to note is something that is greatly to Sen. Foreman’s credit. He is taking what pro-lifers have professed to believe seriously. And given Obama’And given Obama’s spectacular successes in turning over state governments to conservative Republicans, pro-lifers are rapidly closing in on the time when the rhetoric of “abortion is murder”—which it is—may be catching up with some of them. s spectacular successes in turning over state governments to conservative Republicans, pro-lifers are rapidly closing in on the time when the rhetoric of “abortion is murder”—which it is—may be catching up with some of them. We cannot use the phrase for raising money, and creating an enduring lobbying organization, and then back away from the logic of the rhetoric when we are finally in a position to pass some legislation.
Given how human life begins, I believe that a bill like this needs to be sophisticated in its anticipation of what would be required in actual trials. That was my first point. But the second point is inexorable in its logic. So abortion is murder, is it? But you cannot have murder without murderers. And the position that only doctors (and never mothers) can occupy that spot is completely untenable. Sen. Foreman is to be commended for his pro-life conviction, which is quite a different thing from pro-life bombast.