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GUEST VIEW By Jim Hufnagel

What punishment for women who have abortions?

That's the question so-called "pro-lifers" never seem to have a good answer for. Which is confusing, when you think about it.

If abortion is murder, the wrongful termination of human life, and is again criminalized in this country as pro-lifers want, doesn't it follow that women who get abortions should be prosecuted and convicted as murderers, and therefore suffer the death penalty or life in prison?

Recent Tea Party candidate and dentist Dr. Jill Rowland appeared on the WLVL-AM talk show "Dialog," campaigning for Rep. Slaughter's seat. Thirty minutes into the show I called in and asked her what her position on the abortion issue was.

"I'm pro-life," she answered smugly, followed by several seconds of radio silence.

She didn't respond, "I'm appalled that this nation has murdered millions of babies, more than the number of people who died in the Holocaust many times over. Abortion is the single most important issue this country has ever faced, and I wish someone had brought it up earlier in the show."

She didn't say anything like that. The pro-life politician doesn't spell it out in stark language.

Simply mouthing the word "pro-life" effectively serves as a dog whistle to the like-minded faithful.

But I plowed ahead anyway and asked her what punishment she thought appropriate for women who obtain abortions: life in prison or the death penalty? Another silence, while the gears slowly turned.

Her strained response was something along the lines of, let's get the initial legislation passed overturning Roe v. Wade, and leave it to the legislative process to arrive at possible penalties.

Whatever that's supposed to mean.

I asked twice more, "What punishment for women who have abortions: life in prison or the death penalty? Remember, these women have committed murder!"

She eventually said, "I have already answered your question," even though she hadn't, and the radio host finally broke in to put her out of her misery.

Rowland in the U.S. Congress would have been equivalent to root canal on the body politic, every day for the next two years, without the novocaine.

Failing to characterize as criminals women who get abortions, blaming their supposed crime on economic or sociologic circumstances, and punishing them with post-abortion counseling or some other slap on the wrist, is the logical backflip most often indulged in by pro-lifers.

In so doing, they elevate denial and cognitive dissonance to levels you'd think unattainable. There is a blindingly clear explanation for that. The pro-life position has nothing at all to do with safeguarding a "right to life" for the innocent unborn, and it has everything to do with controlling women.

Our society still doesn't trust women, or believe they have the wisdom to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

It stands to reason anyone adopting the pro-life position would, at the very least, refuse to pay for abortion services. In fact, many believe they don't.

Another revealing question for pro-lifers is, if you're so opposed to abortions, why do you pay for them?

Beyond the prohibition on using federal funds for abortion, enforced by the Hyde Amendment, named after the Illinois congressman and serial adulterer who sponsored it, states have the option of providing Medicaid coverage for abortion services, and New York state is one of 17 that does.

All states are required by the federal government to pay for termination of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, because as any pro-lifer can explain to you, it's the fetus' fault if it was conceived under less-than-ideal circumstances.

New York long ago opted not to discriminate against poor women when it comes to health care, and abortion services are fully funded in New York state.

So if you truly believe abortion is murder and the taking of an innocent human life, and we have perpetrated the murder of millions of human beings over the past 40 years, etc., here's your action plan: Stop paying your taxes.

Or at the very least move to Pennsylvania, where Medicaid doesn't pay for abortions. In the meantime, rest assured that you are paying for abortions as surely as if you were whipping out the plastic every time a woman walks into the clinic.

Let's further explore the contention that fetuses are human beings, which has never been the case in this country. The 230-year-old U.S. Constitution defines a citizen as anyone "born or naturalized" not "pre-born or conceived." Legal rights in America attach at birth, not conception. This includes rights of personhood, such as property rights and inheritance.

Therefore, restrictive abortion laws make no sense in light of historical context. They are a relatively recent contrivance, rooted in narrow religious viewpoint and steeped in the oppression of women.

Politicians on both sides of the issue regularly use abortion as a poker chip, never seriously getting on each other's case about it.

For example, Utah senator and pro-lifer Orrin Hatch eulogized baby-exterminator Ted Kennedy at the latter's funeral last year.

"God be with you till we meet again. In the end, the good thing's won. He leaves the earth a better place. ... He cared for all the human race. ... In the end, he's carried there on angels' wings. ... I will miss my Irish friend. God be with you till we meet again."

If you happen to be pro-life, you should ask Sen. Hatch if he would have memorialized Eichmann with similar language.

Longtime congressman and fervent pro-lifer John J. LaFalce never failed to vote against international family planning aid, leaning on the misrepresentation that the funding paid for abortions. Tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of women worldwide died because LaFalce and his ilk tethered prenatal and birthing care to abortion politics. During his tenure, these votes were always close and almost always lost by six or eight votes, because LaFalce harbored a squeamishness when it came to realistic appraisal of the circumstances of women's lives.

None of that, however, discouraged him from bending over ass-backwards to bring baby-killer Hillary Clinton to speak at his alma mater, Canisius College.

When it comes to sucking up to the rich and famous, we can set abortion over there in the corner for a little while, isn't that right, John-John?

Everyone knows Francine Del Monte was a champion of the unborn. While she may have been friends with many pro-choicers, she hated the sin. She voted against abortion every chance she got, and often against sex education and birth control as well. It rankled her no end when Planned Parenthood opened the doors to their abortion clinic smack-dab in the middle of her district.

All it took to turn her around on the issue was a challenge in the name of Gary Parenti, breathing down her neck in the Democratic primary four years ago.

Francine sprang into action, currying the favor of the sizable and influential local pro-choice community by coming up with an low-key $3,000 earmark for Niagara County's only abortion clinic one week before the primary election.

In more behind-the-scenes duplicity, Buffalo assemblyman and champion of "choice" Sam Hoyt sat on his hands when his saintly colleague Robin Schimminger unilaterally killed a $150,000 earmark that would have subsidized the merger of the Niagara and Buffalo Planned Parenthoods: $150,000 down the tubes and not a peep in public from Sam I Am.

The take-home message for pro-life and pro-choice alike? The politicians are playing us like a bongo drum.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Jan. 4, 1011