Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

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Are most women less perceptive than 6 year old children?

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4 minutes to read A question for Douglas Wilson, who seems to think the majority of women who procure abortions are hoodwinked, and have no real idea of what they’re doing.

Donald Trump is making waves as usual; this time by stating, in a show of rare consistency, that women who procure abortions should be punished.

Well duh, you would think. But then, even as the “duh” is forming in your mind, you notice ordinarily straightforward people, who normally have few compunctions about taking unpopular positions, turn around and say, “Nuh uh, that’s not the pro-life view.”

Say what, Douglas Wilson?

We are dealing with millions of cases. It is the view of politically active pro-lifers that the penalties should fall on those who know what they are doing. Medically trained doctors know exactly what they are doing. The ghouls at Planned Parenthood know exactly what they have been selling.

And the view about the mothers, taken as a class, is that they have been fraudulently manipulated into a form of negligent manslaughter. That kind of problem is best answered with information — ultrasounds and more. This is why pro-lifers for decades have offered support, information, care, and medical services to mothers. The laws have been aimed at doctors who were after the blood money. And in the main, this has been a very effective and reasonable distinction. [ Douglas Wilson, Trump as Corduroy Pillow (March 2016).]

The problem with such infinitely reasonable-sounding rhetoric is simply that it trips over the facts on the ground. Let me give a couple of representative examples:

1. Experience of ministry at abortion mills

This is not my own experience, I’m afraid; a while back I was somewhat involved in the now-cultic Abolish Human Abortion (AHA), who regularly posted videos from their Go-Pros while ministering at abortion mills. Now, acknowledging that selection bias could be in play here—though AHA members told me this was quite representative—most of their videos showed interactions in which someone involved in the abortion knew damned well that they were killing a child.

Usually it was the mother. Often it was the father. Sometimes it was a family member or friend.

But there was typically at least one person involved who did not deny what they were doing, but rather, when told that abortion is murder, would say, “I know. Now shut up because this is what we’ve decided to do, it’s our right, and it’s none of your business.”

Given these kinds of videos, which were quite common, I am highly skeptical of the idea that women are really unaware of what is going on, to the extent that the pro-abortion rhetoric can really be thought of as “fraud”—or at least, as undetected fraud. I have no doubt that manipulation is going on here, but it seems to me that typically it is the kind of manipulation one engages in to ease someone’s conscience into doing what they know damned well they should not do. In other words, this is not an Eve situation, but an Adam one (1 Timothy 2:14).

2. Discussions with children

I once had to explain abortion to my daughter, who was about six at the time. I told her that sometimes, when women get pregnant, they don’t want the baby, so they go to a doctor to remove it. She was puzzled at first, wondering what happened to it. I explained that they had to cut it in pieces.

She was then shocked. “People kill their babies? But why?”

I responded with the kind of line that Doug is suggesting here: “Well, lots of mummies are told by doctors that it isn’t really a baby yet.”

With much scorn, she responded quite ably, “Well what do they think it is then?”


If the pro-life view involves treating women as less critically able than a six year old, then so much the worse for the pro-life view. And indeed, does not the standard pro-choice rhetoric of, “it’s a very difficult decision,” put the lie to this? There is nothing difficult about deciding to remove a clump of cells or parasitic tissue. What is difficult is deciding to kill an unborn human being.

So again, I am highly skeptical that most women are simply oblivious to what is going on. The lies perpetuated by the abortion industry do not, on the whole, deceive them into holding a view contrary to the plain facts; rather, the lies soothe their consciences into ignoring the plain facts.

Now, I am not at all denying the effectiveness of ultrasound ministries and the like; but it seems to me these are effective not because they reveal something that most mothers don’t know, but rather because they make what they do know seem real.

But wait…

All this to say, I find Doug’s view bizarrely naïve—and at the same time oddly patronizing to women. What is even more puzzling, though, is that even if most abortive women are guilty only of negligent manslaughter, does negligent manslaughter not come with severe penalties? Uh, yes it does. It comes with prison time. So either way, this idea that abortive mothers should not be punished is simply inconsistent and nonsensical.



Makes perfect common sense to me. I read that Hukabee criticized Trump for saying women should be punished. But I have heard Hukabee say that abortion is murder.

I agree that most women are willingly ignorant. If abortion had always been punishment for the woman (along with whoever performs it), there would be very few abortions today.

The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. Prov. 12:10


I don’t think it’s relevant whether or not Doug’s view is *patronising* to women; it’s relevant whether it’s *accurate* about women. After all, *if* it’s accurate to say women have less perception than a six-year-old, it’s not patronising, it’s simply true (in the same way that it’s not patronising to say that women have on average 30% less muscle mass than men). Our focus should be on what the truth is, not what’s nice to say.

That said, I think it’s very clear that there’s a huge spectrum of moral awareness among abortive women.

I’ve read pieces by proud, intelligent career women who’ve smugly trumpeted their abortions and said they’d do it again in a minute; no remorse, no illusions, no regret. Calling them victims is obviously incorrect.

I’ve also read pieces by women who were young teenagers – ‘women’ only in the biological sense of the word – when they were pressured into abortion. Poorly-educated girls. Girls whose ignorance of basic biology was a factor in their getting pregnant in the first place. Girls who were told repeatedly by every authoritative figure in their lives – parents, counsellors and doctors in white coats – that their ‘pregnancy’ was just a clump of cells. And they believed it. Even at the time of testifying later, after coming to a pro-life understanding later in life, often on a pro-life blog, they don’t always say “Deep down I knew” – and at this point I don’t see they’d have any motivation to lie about it. (To be clear, many women *do* say they knew deep down; but some say they were entirely deceived.)

And I have no reason to disbelieve them. We know how strongly people tend to believe statements from authority figures – it comes up in marketing books all the time. We know how tremendously the public school system can fail kids on the matter of biology and reproductive science. We can hazard a pretty good guess that many girls who get pregnant at 13 aren’t the types to keep up on pro-choice/pro-life dialogue about the nature of the fetus.

Yes, our six-year-old knew that a baby was a baby. But then, she’s better educated about fetal development, childbirth and so on than a lot of adults. I’ve shown her week-by-week photos of growing embryos. She’s seen ultrasound videos and photos. We’ve talked about how early you can tell if a baby’s a girl or a boy. When women we know announce their pregnancy, I’ve talked about how the baby’s in her tummy and how tiny it is. Not everyone gets that kind of education.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Good points that are well taken. And points which a defense attorney could surely argue in a manslaughter case, and which a jury would surely be sympathetic to.


In my experience, the reason abortion laws in pro-life states (before Roe v Wade) considered the woman as another victim and not an accomplice was more due to pragmatism.
Abortion laws were first and foremost trying to keep abortions from happening & classifying the mother as a victim allowed her to testify in court against the aborter.
From what I’ve read, without the mother as a testimony it could be very hard to get a conviction.

Valley Malachi Scharping

I go to the mills frequently to preach, pray, and sing. I have had dozens of discussions with those willing to speak with me on their way in to murder and they almost ALWAYS admit it is murder. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not.

There was once a father who looked me directly in the eyes, his little girl in the back seat listening, and said, “I go to church every Sunday, and yes, abortion is murder, and I brought my wife here to murder our unborn child, but it’s what has to happen.”

Granted, not everyone talks with me, but whenever someone responds to me asking them to come over and pray with me, however gentle their tone, or callous their hearts, they admit it is a human life they are going to murder. It’s not just the crazy ones. My heart is broken by how surprisingly honest they are. Just thought you would be blessed by further testimony. I am not a part of AHA, though I support those brothers.