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You shall not pervert the justice due to the … fatherless.
Deuteronomy 24:17

The debate over the prosecution of women for abortion is reaching a boiling point in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

It all started with The Resolution on Abolishing Abortion which passed in 2021 at the SBC’s annual meeting in Nashville. The passage of this resolution by a considerable majority of the 14,000 Messengers in attendance, in spite of the resolutions committee’s attempt to keep it off the floor, stirred up a conversation that remains unabated.

One of the major points of contention some within the SBC have with The Resolution on Abolishing Abortion is that it calls for equal protection of the laws for preborn babies. It states, “we affirm that the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law.”

This affirmation doesn’t sit well with many who believe that women who abort their babies are actually the second victims of the abortion who should never be criminally liable.

Where did this notion come from that a woman, who actively seeks out the assistance of an abortionist who she is paying to kill her child, is actually a victim alongside her child?

The second victim narrative comes from the pro-life movement.

The narrative that all (or most) women who abort their babies are victims saturates nearly everything from the social media feeds of local pregnancy resource centers and sonogram bus ministries all the way up to the legislative lobbying of nationwide pro-life organizations. We have documented this phenomenon before.

Pro-life leaders are not hiding it. Recently more than 70 pro-life organization leaders signed, “An Open Letter to State Lawmakers from America’s Leading Pro-life Organizations.”

National Right to Life

Among other things, this open letter states that:

Women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support …

We state unequivocally that we do not support any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women and we stand firmly opposed to include [sic] such penalties in legislation.

While much of the pro-life community continues to advocate for aborting mothers to be treated as “the second innocent victims” rather than sinners in need of a Savior, we HAVE recently seen encouraging turnarounds on this issue by some.

As of March 2022, popular pro-life figure Abby Johnson—former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-lifer who tells her story in her book Unplanned—FLIPPED from her previous position that women should never be punished for abortion. That might surprise some since Abby is a post-abortive mother herself, but she’s not alone. There are many post-abortive women who think there should be penalties for women.

Abby Johnson replies to Louisiana Right to Life

Southern Baptists and the ERLC

Returning to the controversy in the SBC, the open letter to lawmakers was signed by Brent Leatherwood the acting President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the SBC.

And he’s not the only one in the SBC who thinks this way. Richard Land, a former head of the ERLC says he would have signed the letter too and notes that victimhood for women has been the consistent narrative of the pro-life movement since before Roe v. Wade.

Land says,

From the beginning of my involvement in the pro-life movement in 1969, we have overwhelmingly perceived mothers as victims, not perpetrators, of abortion…

Over and over again I have heard pro-life advocates passionately argue that in any abortion there are at least two victims: the aborted baby and his or her mother.” [1]

We see he cites his experience in the pro-life movement but no biblical support for this position.

What he fails to note is that refusal to hold women equally accountable to the law is one of the reasons the Supreme Court gave for rejecting the argument of the state of Texas that the fetus was a person in Roe v. Wade. Many don’t realize it, but Texas had already denied preborn babies the equal protection of their laws BEFORE 1973. The killing of a preborn person was already treated differently under Texas law (with much lesser penalties) than the killing of a born person.

The Court pointed out the hypocrisy of the state of Texas in their Roe v. Wade opinion saying, “If the fetus is a person, may the penalties be different? If the fetus is a person, why is the woman not a principal or an accomplice?” [2]

In reality, denying equal protection for preborn babies by refusing to hold women equally accountable to the law is one of the things that opened the door for Roe in the first place.

Are women truly culpable for their abortions?

Another SBC voice weighed in on penalties for women who abort their babies.

Denny Burk, a professor at Boyce College (the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) says, “We favor policies that punish those who perform abortions, not the mothers who allow them.” [3]

Allow them? This makes it sound like mothers are simply going along in their pregnancy and the abortionist instigates the procedure somehow while she unwittingly “allows” it.

Friends, this is absurd. That isn’t how abortion works. Abortionists aren’t roaming neighborhoods coercing entirely ignorant women into their facilities.

Women know what they are doing; they sign all the consent forms to prove it. They know that a pregnancy is a baby. They actively seek out abortion and pay money to get it done. Abortion is not something that just happens to unwitting individuals.

Now, there are some women who actually are victims, like the 11-year-old incest victim who is by all accounts under duress. Keeping abortion legal for women doesn’t protect these women or their babies, it simply allows their abusers to cover their crimes more easily.

Portraying all aborting women as victims makes a mockery of women who really are victims!

Burk goes on to argue against criminal liability for women because he says we can’t judge the degree of moral culpability of women for their individual abortions. He says,

Morally, it is not always clear what level of culpability should be assigned to the mother. That is not to say that she has no moral culpability in the act. She certainly does have moral agency and culpability in seeking out an abortion. Having said that, it is not always straightforward to what degree she is morally implicated in the act.

He discusses the fact that some women are very high-handed about their abortions and know exactly what they are doing and others are more confused. He asks, “What specific public policy would take account of both kinds of situations?”

One might ask Mr. Burk what he thinks the justice system is for?

Legislation is not written to adjudicate individual cases and decide the guilt or innocence of individuals. That’s what criminal investigations, district attorneys, grand juries, judges, and juries do.

This is true for other crimes as well. Prosecution of theft, assault, rape, murder (as long as it’s a born person who died), and other crimes is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Equal Protection and Penalties

Abolish Abortion Texas explains how abolition bills (bills of equal protection) and penalties interact in this way:

“Abolition bills don’t establish penalties at all.

…the homicide chapter of our penal code also includes many other categories besides capital murder. A homicide may be charged as murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide. It could even be charged as criminal conspiracy, assault, injury to a child, or even a Class A misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct, the penalty for which could be a fine of $4,000 or jail time of one year or even one day. A judge could even give a defendant deferred adjudication or probation and the defendant could just stay out of trouble for a period of time or do community service. A prosecutor could even choose to give a defendant immunity to testify against the abortion provider, or the prosecutor could choose not to pursue charges AT ALL.

Even if a prosecutor did pursue charges, and a grand jury did indict, and a judge didn’t give deferred adjudication, and a jury did convict and sentence, and an appellate court did uphold the conviction and sentence, then a governor could still pardon the person or commute their sentence.

Those are the laws [in Texas] that already protect my life and yours once we survived long enough to be born.

We’re not saying that any of these outcomes are the right outcomes. We can’t say that because each case has to be judged on its own merits. That’s why we have a justice system, so that every situation is considered on a case-by-case basis.

The point is that abolition bills do not control the investigation of a crime. Abolition bills do not control the decisions of law enforcement or district attorneys as they decide what (if any) charges to bring. Abolition bills do not control the verdicts of judges or juries as they consider the evidence and determine whether to give maximum or minimum penalties or no penalty at all. Abolition bills do not control how appellate courts examine the record of trials and sentences. Abolition bills do not control whether a governor chooses to shorten someone’s sentence or even pardon them altogether.

ABOLITION BILLS DO NOT DICTATE OR CONTROL THE OUTCOMES AT ALL.

Abolition bills simply change the law to repeal or override the abortion exception so that the same laws prohibiting the homicide of a born person also prohibit homicide of a preborn person, and everyone is equally prohibited from committing homicide. Abolition bills simply remove discrimination against preborn children from our laws against homicide.” [4]

It is also helpful to note as we talk about the criminalization of abortion for anyone involved, that the laws we are calling for are not retroactive. Nobody, including the authors of the SBC Resolution on Abolishing Abortion, are talking about prosecuting women for abortions that happened before it was illegal.

What about compassion for women?

Pro-life leaders, in their open letter, stress compassion for women. They speak of any criminal consequences for women who abort their children as, “hurting women.”

Of course we want to have righteous compassion for women, but this is NOT the biblical way to advocate on this issue.

Friends, good laws which uphold God-honoring standards are good for everyone, not bad.

The Bible says that “the law is a tutor” (Gal. 3:4). The law has a very real job of teaching people what is right and what is wrong. And when we write bad laws, the law teaches people the wrong things and does damage to consciences.

The Bible says that when, “the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”(Ecc. 8:11).

All we have to do to verify this truth is take a look at actively-aborting women in America today. Watch the videos on this page. Hearts have grown cold and this is evident on the sidewalks outside abortion clinics and in the pro-abortion online support groups.

Understanding Categories

One thing Christians must understand is that there are at least three categories of women when it comes to the conversation about aborting mothers.

At #NotAVictim we aren’t talking about women who want their babies but have physical needs that categorize them as potentially abortion-vulnerable.

And we don’t even primarily mean abortion-minded women who have thought about or considered abortion in some way but decided it wasn’t for them.

We are talking about the thousands of actively-aborting women who are actively seeking abortion, making their clinic appointments, signing the consent forms, cooperating with and paying for the abortionist to do the killing, and planning their abortions and talking about their babies (yes they call them babies) in pro-abortion support groups.

We are talking about the women who skip around the medical system and pro-life laws that regulate abortion like healthcare by choosing self-managed abortion instead of going to a clinic. They order abortion pills online without a doctor and kill at home. Self-managed abortion is seeing a sharp rise in states which have restrictions on abortionists but not on women. [5] This will only continue as long as women remain free from criminal liability for their actions.

Actively-aborting women are by-and-large MUCH different in attitude than the women who seek out help from Christian Pregnancy Resource Centers during their pregnancy.

Man actively-aborting women will state openly how happy they are to be getting abortions and these are the women you are seeing in the videos and other resources on this site.

Denny Burk says that, “the pro-life movement has rejected attempts to prosecute women for getting an abortion. Rather, the focus has been on treating them with care and compassion.”

We could ask in return: What is compassion? Do you have a standard?

The Bible warns that, “the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” (Prov. 12:10). This should teach us that there are many counterfeit forms of compassion, but we as Christians are not justified in practicing them.

It is not godly compassion to deny preborn babies the equal protection of the laws because we imagine that women will be hurt by it. In God’s world, compassion for women and compassion for babies are not at war with one another.

Remember, good and righteous laws are GOOD for everyone. They are good because they protect the weak and innocent and they restrain people from doing evil when they may otherwise act on their immediate desires.

Women need the restraint of good and righteous laws just the same as men do. It is godly compassion to institute laws that will restrain people from doing violence to the innocent. It is good for both the victim and the aggressor.

In fact, when there are good laws to restrain women from doing evil, we as Christians will have much MORE opportunity to show women in difficult pregnancy situations the love of Christ in our Pregnancy Resource Centers and share with them the Good News of redemption in Christ when they repent and believe. That is VERY good for women.

Let Your Actions be Ruled by the WORD

Burk and Land appear to derive their viewpoint almost entirely from pragmatic scenarios suggested by the leaders of the pro-life movement rather than from the Word of God.

That is not good enough for Bible-believing Christians. We must source our viewpoint on this issue from Scripture.

It may not be popular to the world or the pro-life movement, but we should believe the truth of Scripture that when, “the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”(Ecc. 8:11).

When we refuse to hold women criminally responsible for the part they play in the murder of their children, we should expect to see their hearts fully set in them to do evil.

We should believe it simply because the Bible says it, but much evidence on this site corroborates the case.

God’s Word gives understanding to the simple, and makes us more wise than our teachers.

I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.” (Psalm 119).

We may have more understanding than all the pro-life leaders who speak to the contrary if we will simply stand on God’s Word.

For the sake of both women and babies, may the 2022 SBC Messengers remember to keep the testimonies of the Lord as their meditation as they consider their way on the issue of equal protection for our littlest neighbors.

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What is the Second-Victim Narrative?

The Pro-Life Second Victim narrative portrays the woman who seeks an abortion as the second victim of abortion along with her baby. It claims that women are ignorant of what they are doing or that they are nearly all forced, coerced, or pressured into the decision, and therefore, they are not truly guilty parties in the act of killing their children.


#NotAVictim is debunking this narrative BECAUSE

  • It is false (stick with us, join our email list below and let us show you)
  • It is a major obstacle to establishing laws of equal protection for preborn babies
  • It is a barrier to the GOSPEL message which must call sin, sin. The Gospel calls on all women and men to repent and turn away from their sin and be cleansed from their guilt by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. Jesus said, “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.“—Luke 13:3

Not a Victim FAQs

    • Aren’t women who get abortions like an animal caught in a trap? Scared, helpless, hurting?
    • Aren’t most women pressured into scheduling an abortion?
    • Why is this site so judgmental? Jesus says to, “Judge Not.”