Learn the Facts

Why do you want to throw women in jail if they have abortions?

The pro-life movement does not want to put women in jail for having abortions. Pro-lifers consider women to be victimized by abortion, whether it is legal or illegal. Laws against abortion would impose penalties on the abortionist, not the woman.

According to the pro-choice writer Rachel Benson Gold, when abortion was still illegal, “women were rarely convicted for having an abortion; instead, the threat of prosecution often was used to encourage them to testify against the provider.” Likewise, in states with laws restricting abortion today — including those enacted since Roe v. Wade was overturned — penalties are imposed on the abortion practitioner, not the woman.

In fact, it was early feminists like Susan B. Anthony who fought to criminalize abortion in the 19th century. They recognized that abortion exploited and harmed women, so they called for new laws that would prevent doctors and other practitioners from performing abortions.

See also What impact did the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling have on abortion policy?


Benson Gold, Rachel. “Lessons from Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue?” The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy 6, no. 1 (March 2003). http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/1/gr060108.html.

Feminists for Life. “Feminist Foremothers.” Accessed November 2, 2023. https://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/.

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