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Question from C. Eric on 2/11/2008:

Dear Judy,

A problem we must eventually address is the crinimal penalties to be imposed for abortion. This evil like slavery must eventually fall of its own weight. And we are just a vote from striking down Roe. Furthermore the discussion of penalties can serve to demonstrate how reasonable we are compared to our adversaries and actually speed the elimination of abortion as a "right." Although I agree that all abortions are criminal homicide, I do not think they should all be classified as capital felonies. It is common jurisprudence that crimes are punished not only in proportion to the evil done but also either mitigated or aggravated by the intent and state of mind of the perpetrator. This is reflected in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa. This is implemented by the classification and range of penalties proscribed by the legislature and by judicial discretion. I do not believe thay any state classified abortion as capital murder prior to Roe. I would propose a straw man that classified abortions after viability as voluntary manslaughter with earlier abortions punished as a lesser felony, and finally the distribution of drugs like RU486 as reckless endangerment, usually a first degree misdemeanor. These penalties should apply only to the "doctor" but not the woman. A lesser criminal misdemeanor is necessary to facilitate counseling as determined by the court. The other side of the woman's crime is that if it is no crime at all for the woman, it facilitates her coming forward to identify the so called "doctor." Many women will feel guilty and their coming forward can provide "probable cause" to subpoena medical records. In any case a discussion of REASONABLE penalties would be very beneficial. It can serve to contast us with the pro abortion extremists. Hopefully such a discussion will soon become a necessity.


C. Eric

Answer by Judie Brown on 2/11/2008:

Dear C. Eric

Once personhood is restored to all human beings prior to birth, we will have to wade through the minefield of criminal penalties and how they should be applied.

Prior to Roe little was known about the exact instant when a human person's life begins; thus is no longer the case. And so what was is not going to be much of a guide for what should be when it comes to defining the level of culpability for those involved in direct abortion which is indeed direct murder.

The Catechsim of the Catholic Church states:

#2273: "...As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”

Further, I have written on this subject as follows:

Each case must be handled individually. If a mother had knowledge of what she was doing, she should be punished along with her doctor – who always knows. The doctor not only knows but has a financial interest that could prompt him to do all he could to keep the mother in the dark, so to speak. Frequently such doctors or those non doctors who do abortions mischaracterize the act so that the mother has a clear conscience and is literally functioning in a state of ignorance. In such a case the mother could argue that she did not know, unlike the doctor who not only knows but intended to misinform the mother. Gualberto Garcia Jones points out, “Criminal law is almost always about knowledge.”

I hope this helps.

Judie Brown


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