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“How would you punish a woman who’s had an abortion?”

It exploits their core premises to bring the pregnant person back into the picture, which they prefer to erase. I’ve had the pleasure of asking several anti-choicers this, and all but one squirmed and refused to answer. That one exception gave me an honest answer (something like “well it’s murder, so we’d charge them for murder”), and I thanked her for her honesty and integrity.

Because if abortion is illegal, this question must have an answer, otherwise anti-choicers are letting people get away with murder. Unfortunately, there are places in the world were abortion is illegal, so we can look to them for possible answers.

Doctors’ testimonies carry a lot of weight. This month, Women’s eNews reported that a woman … can be sentenced to up to two years behind bars based solely on the testimony of a medical professional who says she had an abortion.

A 2013 report from Human Rights Watch documented the serious consequences of including abortion in [the] criminal code. Because women are afraid of being sent to prison, they often don’t seek the medical care they need. Although sexual assault is widespread … — a recent government report suggested that one in four women there have been the victims of sexual violence — the doctors interviewed by Human Rights Watch said it’s too difficult to push women to share details about domestic abuse because it puts them at risk of being accused of self-inducing an abortion.


In 2010, for instance, a … woman … was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she suffered complications while giving birth. Doctors treated her as if she had attempted an abortion; she was shackled to her hospital bed and accused of murder. She ended up dying from cancer in prison without being reunited with her two children. In 2012, a similar thing happened to a woman named Glenda, who didn’t know she was pregnant when she went to a hospital to be treated for heavy bleeding. It turned out she had miscarried; Glenda was sentenced to 10 years behind bars after a judge ruled that she “should have saved the baby’s life.”


According to the reproductive rights organization GIRE, at least 679 women … were reported or sentenced for having an abortion between 2009 and 2011. In … a conservative state that has [the] highest rate of teen pregnancy, dozens of women have been put on trial for abortion since 2000, and some of them have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Some of those women are being convicted of homicide even when there isn’t any proof they intentionally ended their pregnancies. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, there are at least 17 women serving prison sentences … whose pregnancies ended from completely natural causes after they suffered obstetric emergencies.


an[sic] woman … was arrested in 2010 for taking abortion-inducing medication, charged under a … law that stipulates it’s illegal for a woman to perform her own abortion. … Since then, a 33-year-old woman … and a 39-year-old woman … have both been imprisoned on similar charges after procuring abortion pills on the internet. …

Other women have been charged with murder for allegedly seeking to harm their fetuses by attempting suicide, using illicit drugs, or even falling down the stairs. Groups like the National Advocates for Pregnant Women say that these charges are part of a larger pattern of singling out women for “second-class status” in the eyes of the law.

That’s a pretty good summary, I think: fully developed human beings have their rights stripped away from them. Pregnancy becomes heavily regulated, people become the victim of arbitrary state action, and sexual assault becomes more of a taboo. And it’s all done because of a fetish over a clump of cells that might become human.

Bonus points if you can tell which of the four stories came from the USA, where abortion is still legal, and which other was also in a country with legal abortion. Never forget how easy it is to erode basic rights and wiggle around the law, in the name of your fetish.