Co-authored by Daniel Grossman
The Washington Post recently ran an op-ed by Kevin Williamson in which he addressed whether he supports capital punishment by hanging for women who have abortions ― a previously stated view that led to his high-profile firing from The Atlantic.
Williamson asserted his earlier words did not represent his position at all, yet he continued to theorize how we should punish women for abortions if the practice is once again criminalized:
I differ from most pro-lifers in that I am willing to extend criminal sanctions to women who procure abortions and to those who enable abortions, assuming they are mentally competent adults ordinarily answerable for their actions.
The thing about Williamson’s thought experiment is that it’s really not a thought experiment at all: Across the U.S. and globally, politicians are proposing criminal sanctions for people seeking abortions. Women like Purvi Patel, Bei Bei Shuai, Anna Yocca, Kenlissia Jones and others have already been arrested or prosecuted for terminating their pregnancies (or for being suspected of doing so). Williamson’s theories are already being tested, and people are already being punished.