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As I talk to people about abortion rights, particularly those who oppose abortion and consider themselves to be pro-life, a question I ask concerns a possible future where abortion is held to be illegal with few or no exceptions. In other words, abortion would considered a criminal act just as, for example, car theft and murder are considered criminal acts. In this context, I ask people to consider what the appropriate criminal penalties for those who might be involved in abortion should be. Interestingly, I find that most people have not considered this aspect of criminalizing abortion.

As we talk about abortion, I think a discussion of the criminal aspects of "pro-choice" and "pro-life" positions is essential. Moving past these slogans to thinking about how a criminalization of abortion might work in our society might provide a very valuable perspective and help bring the two sides closer together fairly quickly.

Depending on the severity of the penalties involved (misdemeanor? felony?) and breadth of their application (women only? women and doctors? etc.), the ramifications of criminalizing abortion could be fairly significant.