By Mark Christian, M.D.
Donald Trump has ignited another firestorm, and this time he should have held his ground. His recent interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC has people on both sides of the abortion issue condemning, cursing and distancing themselves from Trump's point of view. I contend, however, that Trump's thoughts on the matter opened up a discussion that is long overdue.
Trump said that if abortion became illegal (which isn't likely anytime soon), he felt it would be only right for there to be a punishment of some kind for the women who seek out and receive illegal abortions. His campaign quickly backtracked and said that the pregnant women, who they called victims, should not be punished, but rather the doctors who perform illegal abortions.
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As an OB/GYN from Egypt, I have a very different take on the matter. I know that the unborn child is alive, innocent and deserving of life from the very day of conception.
On the contrary, most Muslim countries outlaw all abortions after 14 weeks of gestation. That is the age the imams (religious teachers) decided is when life truly begins, guided by some verses of the Quran. Because of the stringent abortion laws, there is a black market in illegal abortions. When those who participate in abortions are caught, all are gravely punished. And if the woman is single, her fate is even worse. She usually becomes the victim of an honor killing. That evidences a horrible, barbaric culture and dark black market we have to avoid at all costs.
When I first came to America, I spent seven years working in a pro-life clinic serving young girls and women facing an unplanned pregnancy. I saw firsthand the difficult position these women are in. But I believe Trump's statement should be an opportunity for us to enter a real dialogue about abortion in this country and whether we actually believe the lives of the unborn matter. I firmly believe that those who calls themselves pro-life and still use the lives of the innocent unborn as a political strategy or for fundraising, but without resolve to adequately deal with the matter, are just as guilty as those who bring about the deaths of any innocent human life, including the unborn by abortion.
The immediate change of tune coming down from the Trump campaign said that the women, too, are victims and should not be punished. Let's not mince words here: Women who willfully go into an abortion clinic with the intent to kill their unborn child are not innocent victims. As of yet, I haven't heard of any abortion clinics kidnapping pregnant women and forcing them to abort their babies.
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Some women, to be fair, feel pressured to have an abortion, either by family, the father or friends. But just as there is pressure to join a gang or shoot someone for "dissing" you, this does not relieve you of the responsibility for having fired the shot. A woman has the opportunity to pursue any number of options for her unborn child. Feeling "pressure" does not absolve her of her role in seeking out someone willing to destroy the unborn child in her womb. In truth, if a person is pressured by another to kill someone else, we have a name for that – conspiracy to commit murder – and such existing laws would/should apply to the fathers, families or friends who are exerting pressure on the mother to abort.
For any politician to suggest that the pregnant woman should bear no culpability for her role in pursuing an abortion is not only blatant pandering but represents the ultimate betrayal of the only truly innocent party in the whole sordid affair, the unborn child. It is time we ask ourselves some very difficult questions. What does it mean to be pro-life? What steps need to be taken to make abortion illegal in this country, and if we succeed in outlawing abortion, what are some of the solutions we can offer to prevent a burgeoning black market? What can we do to assist women with their unwanted pregnancies? Are we ready to get serious about finding solutions to these problems rather than bandying about empty slogans? Trump answered honestly. Is anyone else willing to step up and do the same?
The bottom line is clear – if abortion is outlawed, it should be treated as any other crime, with prosecution for the perpetrator, the facilitators and their accessories, both before and after the fact. To suggest otherwise is a symptom of unadulterated corruption.
Dr. Mark Christian is the president and executive director of the Global Faith Institute. A former Islamic imam who converted from Islam to Christianity, he has dedicated his life and work to the proposition that "the first victims of Islam are the Muslims themselves."